AFTER five days of arduous road racing throughout Tobago, Heatwave Cycle Club were crowned overall Division One Team winners, at the 2019 Tobago International Cycling Classic (TICC).
Heatwave tallied 311 points over the five gruelling stages, holding off eventual runners-up, Raiders, and third placed Team Pharmaco, which were headed by TT’s most experienced endurance rider, Emile Abraham. Rounding off the top five overall finishers were Support Clean Sport/BSC (156pts) and Marc Pro p/b Gym One (104pts) respectively.
In the final and most challenging race on Sunday – the 120km distance which saw cyclists pedal the island’s perimeter – Raiders’ Clever Martinez (Venezuela) was first to cross the finish line at Esplanade, Scarborough. He triumphed ahead of Heatwave’s silver medallist, Scott McGill (USA) and bronze receiver/teammate, Bryan Gomez (Colombia). Heatwave’s Hasani Hennis (Anguilla) placed fourth while Cyrus Pearo (USA) of Support Clean Sport/BSC was fifth.
Prior to the feature race, there were four shorter criterium stages held throughout Tobago which saw Heatwave, Raiders and Team Pharmaco dominate the field.
In stage one, Gomez topped the field, followed by Team Clif Bar’s Conor Mullervy (USA) and Heatwave’s Joel Yates (New Zealand) in Division One. McGill, Hennis and Pearo then captured the 1-2-3 in the second stage (Plymouth Circuit Race) to maintain a tight contest at the top. The third segment – Plymouth Village Criterium – saw the Under-23 rider, Hennis, trump all participants, followed by Pearo and Team Recapi Avizor’s Joge Navarrete (Colombia) respectively. After three stages, the Anguillan led the standings on 60pts, trailed closely by Martinez (54pts) and Yates (45pts) respectively.
The penultimate stage (Market Square Criterium) saw Martinez claim top honours while Gomez and Tobagonian Abraham rounded the top-three ahead of Sunday’s climax race.
McGill’s dominant showing over the five stages saw him also emerge as the best Under-23 rider and the second best individual rider overall. Heatwave’s Alexi Costa also copped the award for “top female” in Division Two followed by Doris Schweizer and Kaya Catthouse (Team Pharmaco/Belize).
Speaking to Heatwave’s team manager, Jessica Costa, yesterday, she revealed that tactical planning and careful observation of their opponents’ strengths were instrumental in the squad’s success.
“The first two stages were big, climbing circuits and we knew Bryan (Raiders) was a good sprinter, so we had to capitalise on the opening stages. The team released the “climbers” early on. Raiders however, continuously kept close, so it was always a tight race. We had to gauge our opposition and figure out who and when we would execute to get ahead of other riders,” Costa explained.
She also indicated that the final event took a physical and mental toll on all TICC athletes. During the 120km distance, Yates suffered a flat tyre which put the pressure on McGill to stay ahead. However, with the unexpected mechanical failure of Gomez’s front and back wheels, McGill capitalised and held his own til the end.
“The team’s ecstatic,” Costa added. “We didn’t even know we were winners until it was announced, simply because the competition was so close. We were too exhausted to have much celebrations on the night but the atmosphere within the team is great.”