Linares takes opening stage of Tobago Cycle Classic

By Clayton Clarke/Sean Mc Coom

CROWN POINT, Tobago(Wed, Oct, 3)  Venezuelan Carlos Linares took the first honours on the opening stage of the 2018 Tobago International Cycling Classic (TICC) which got underway at Shirvan Road earlier today (Wed, Oct, 3). The Raiders team rider won the Division One 120km/10 lap event ahead of France’s Mikael Stanislas of Martinique (Sentry/Boatyard) and another Venezuelan/Raiders cyclist Maximo Rojas. The 27 year old Basquisimeto resident made his move on the last and final lap sprinting away from the patch along the Shirvan Road to ease over the finish line in 2 hrs 21 min 17.48 sec (2:21:17.48) . Stanislas was well back in 2:21:29.95 but also comfortably ahead of Rojas (2:21:37.19). The Latin American entrants had a big influence on the race with Albert Ramos (Team Pharmarco) of the Dominican Republic winning the first sprint lap at the end of lap one ahead of Bernado Diaz (Venezuela/Support Clean Sport) and local rider Akil Campbell (TTO/Heatwave) . Colombia’s Ulloa Rodriguez (Raiders) took the third lap while Vicente Sanabria Martinez (Cuba/Dutch Food Valley) ran away with fifth and sixth circuits. However Barbadian rider Edwin Sutherland interrupted the latino dominance by leading way at the completion of the second and fourth loops. Stanislas made with bid for glory with a breakaway move in taking the sprint lap with three rounds of rides left. He continued to lead until the final lap with when Linares sprinted past the Martiniquian after the incline by the new Old Grange Police station to take the first leg of the Four Stage series.

Stanislas won the Sprint king title ahead of Martinez and Ramos while Venezualan Robert Sierra of Heatwave took home the top Under 23 rider title.

Race icon Emile Abraham was the top local finisher finishing in fifth (2:21:52.27). The Tobago born rider started slowly but moved up during the race to shine for the Red, White and Black in front of this home fans. The 44 year old is showing no signs of slowing down. Abraham is riding for Team Pharmaco.

Abraham was named to top Masters (Over 40) cyclists while Stephen Alexander was the top local based based rider.

QUOTES……..

CARLOS LINARES, speaking with a translator………The win is one  of joy. I was not feeling too good before the race. I didn’t think I was able to finish but he found strength. I made my move at the 3km to go with a breakaway. The race when according to plan. The initial plan if is there was a sprint finish they (my team-mates) will work with the sprinters. There were a breakaways and we were all attentive.”

Going into the second stage…”the plan is to stay in the front and pay attention to the guys who have front and just keep the (yellow jersey).”

EMILE ABRAHAM…”Today is the first time in history of the Tobago Classic that the (leading) group finished in pieces. The race was really hot and made for a hard race. The first five guys finished solo and not in a bunch. We had four guys from Team Pharmaco that made the initial breakaway but that group became smaller and smaller. I broke away again and missed the group. It was a good race. I am happy with how it went. I think my form is good. It would have been nice to have more guys from my team up there but I think we rode a strong race. (Team) Raiders put on a good race and will be the team to beat.

The last week I was not really riding a lot. I am getting old and I didn’t want to come into the race tired. I made me feel not so peppy. In the beginning I was trying to get my legs going but as the race I was feeling a lot stronger. I have to ride a lot smarter as every year goes by.

I came into the race in probably the best form I have had in the last few years. I had done a lot good races in the US and I have been making a lot of podiums this year and have had a really good season. I am also training for the World Masters Championships in Los Angeles, the weekend after I leave here. I didn’t want to do much because I don’t want to go into the World Champs tired. (Stage Two) is a hard stage race and I am contemplating whether to  start stage Two or taking easy and come out for the criterium.”

In the Division Two 60km/5 laps event Andre Greene (Guyana/Rigtech Sonics) outsprinted Andres Diaz (Venzuela/Raiders) for the win. The two broke away from the pelaton from the start of the race staying just behind Bram Sanderson of Dominica who was ahead after the first lap. However, Sanderson was forced to drop out after a flat tire leaving Greene and Diaz to dominate the race. Diaz seemed on course for the win after he led at the end of the second, third and fourth circuits but Greene showed his strength to take the victory.  TTO’s Maurice Burnette of led Phoeonix the chasing pack home to take third ahead of compatriots Zion Pulido and Christopher Govia of Breakaway.

Burnette was also the top Junior and Alexis Costa was the top female. Joshua Rawlins was top Juvenile finisher. Raiders lead the team standing.

Stage two is set to begin at Old Grange Bay in Mt. Irvina from 8:00am. The Division One riders will do battle in the 80km/4 lap race while the Division Two field will contest a 57km/5 lap ride. Later on on Thursday is the much-looked forward to Classic Rum Punch Beach Picnic at Pigeon Point for 1:30pm where the riders have a chance to enjoy the local culture. Steelband music and local calypsonians will be on hand to encourage the visiting riders and officials to relax and party. The highly anticipated ‘wining’ contest and conga line are on the schedule. Local dishes such as ‘doubles’, corn soup and bake and shark will also be served.

The annual Tobago International Cycling Classic is now in 31st edition. This year will see the introduction of the Gran Fondo event on Friday, where the riders will take a trip around the island ahead of Sunday’s finale-Tour of Tobago.

The Plymouth Village criterium (Division One-65km/50 laps, Division-Two- 26km/20 laps, Division Three-7km/5 laps) is set for Friday, October, 5 on Shelbourne Street (1:30pm)  and the Market Square criterium (Division One-60 km/60 laps, Division Two-20 km/20 laps, Division Three-5km/5 laps)  is set for Wilson Road, Scarborough Sat, October, 6 (8:30am)

Sponsors: Tobago House of Assembly (THA), The Sports and Culture Fund, National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), National Gas Company (NGC), Ministry of Tourism, Dasani Water, British Airways, Econo Car Rentals, El Pecos, Agostini Insurance, Crown Point Hotel, Johnston Apartments, B Mobile, Holiday Snacks, Bermudez.

QUOTES….

ANDRE GREENE….”I feel the hard work has paid off. (I made my move) on the first lap. I know I am not a a sprinter so I just keep everybody in touch and battle them on the finish. This is my second time competing in the TICC. That experience is helping me. (The flat) is one of my favourite stage.  (Diaz and I) we were working together.

ANDRES DIAZ….”We were working together. We were talking on the breakaway. I am not a sprinter that is why he passed me on the line.

MAURICE BURNETTE…..”I didn’t know there were two guys ahead of me. I was not pacing hard. I want to shout out my coach Elijah Greene and Miss Calendar, the two persons who helped me. I also want to shout out my mom and my dad. (On finishing as the top local”)..”That feels real good.  I only recently started riding.