By Floyd Christie
Albert Philander delivered a top class performance to emerge from deep within the pack to restrict defending Champion Warren ‘Forty’ McKay to second place and cash in on the winning trophy in the annual Ballot Box Martyrs 55-mile cycle road race yesterday.
The event, which commenced outside Freedom House, New Amsterdam yesterday morning saw Philander strategically keeping pace with the rest of the bunch behind his Roraima Bikers club mate and front runner McKay.
It was Mc Kay who made the first jump, breaking away early from the rest of the pack, as is his signature, closely followed by Junior Niles.
On the return from the Corriverton Police Station for the finish at No. 63 Village, Corentyne, it was Philander’s turn to strike when the bunch caught up with the tiring McKay.
From that point Philander snaked into the lead and pressed forward and distanced himself from McKay and the other contenders to complete a convincing victory.
Philander completed the 55-mile journey in a time of two hours, eight minutes and 40 seconds.
As last year’s winner of the event and looking in-form with solid performances at recent race meets, McKay was favoured to cart off the winning trophy and was looking as if he would deliver on expectations as he lead the contingent for the entirety of their upward journey.
However, McKay told Stabroek Sport after the race meet that he exerted a vast amount of energy as he shifted into overdrive “going up” but on his return it was like he had shutdown and he was caught by Philander and the others.
Robin Persaud finished strongly in close proximity to McKay in third place while Junior Niles dropped to fourth position after an impressive start.
Ian Jackson copped the fourth position and Berbice’s junior cyclist Neil Reece held his own amongst the top senior contenders to grab sixth place.
Reece’s sixth in the senior category meant he was the top junior.
Commenting on his performance, Reece said that he trained hard for the race meet.
“I prepared for them this time,” he exclaimed.
Paul DeNobrega and Delon Desa closed off the top three juniors finishing second and third respectively.
The female category, which finished on the upward journey at No. 63 Village saw Linden’s Hazina Bharrat winning from Marcia Dick with Naomi Singh third.
The Upright Category which spanned the same distance as the females was dominated by the Georgetown cyclists when Mario King and Kevin Edwards crossed the finish line in first and second place respectively leaving young Mark Harris trailing in their wake in third place.
The Veterans race also ended on the journey at No. 63 Village and Gary Benjamin of Fyrish Village, Corentyne rode well in front of the Corentyne spectators to win the event.
Linden Blackman and Turhan Harris placed second and third respectively.
McKay carted off four prime prizes, Niles two and Reece and Ricky Kissoon bagged one prime each.
Trophies were presented to top performers.
The presentation ceremony that followed the race meet was graced by prominent individuals such as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Sport, Neil Kumar and officials of Region Six.
They all thanked the participants and sponsors for supporting the symbolic event, which is in memory of Jagan Ramessar and Parmanand Bholanauth, who were gunned down on July 16, 1973, while trying to prevent armed agents from removing ballot boxes from the New Market Primary School at No. 63 Village, Corentyne.