By Emmerson Campbell
This year’s five-stage road race which pedals off this morning on the Corentyne, Berbice has attracted riders from Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Denmark, Germany, USA and England along with top local riders.
The riders in this year’s edition of the “Ride for Life” Tour of Guyana were urged yesterday to raise the benchmark above last year’s performance so every year improvements can be seen.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Frank Anthony called on the cyclists to rise to the challenge as he addressed them at his Main Street ministry during a formal send off yesterday.
The fifth annual five-stage road race which is aptly dubbed “Ride for Life 5” will require the riders to cover a total of 266 miles.
The first stage commences today from 07:30 hrs at Corriverton and ends at New Amsterdam (46 miles). Later today, stage two will begin at 14:00 hrs when the riders will pedal off at Rosignol and journey to Georgetown (60 miles).
Tomorrow, stage three will commence at 09:00 hrs at Wales and end at Parika (35 miles).
On Saturday, the penultimate stage will commence at 07:30 hrs at Supenaam and conclude at Suddie (62 miles).
On the final day, Sunday, the final stage will begin at 8:30 hrs with the cyclists riding from Linden and finishing in Georgetown in another 62-mile race.
All top 10 finishers will receive cash prizes and trophies.
The top three finishers will receive US$1,000 and a trophy, US$750 and a trophy and US$500 and a trophy respectively.
National road race champion, Walter Grant-Stewart, along with Robin Persaud, Junior Niles, Warren ‘40’ McKay, Marlon ‘Fishy’ Williams, Enzo Matthews, Geron Wiiliams and top junior Paul DeNobrega will come up against stiff competition from the overseas riders especially a team from California, United States of America that comprises Americans, a rider from Denmark and a German.
The local riders will also be tested by Shaun Green, a Triathlon athlete from England. Green is the husband of Guyanese-born female cyclist Claire Fraser, who represented Guyana at the Commonwealth Games in India last year.
Top local rider Alonzo Greaves is out with a fractured wrist that he sustained while on national duties in Jamaica last month.
The tour is destined to have a new champion as last year’s winner Antonio Quintero from the Miami-based team Cocos will not be defending his title as he is currently competing in Trinidad.
Speaking at the send off, President of the Guyana Cycling Federation (GCF) Cheryl Thompson, welcomed the overseas riders and urged all the cyclists to have a very competitive and safe ride in each of the stages. Thompson reminded the local cyclists that they are in for stiff competition but said they must defend their home turf.
“This is your home turf and we as Guyanese are looking forward for good results. We do not have the defending champion to defend his title but we have some strong competitors but in every stage I hope to see a Guyanese in the top three crossing the finish line.”
Dr. Anthony said that every year his ministry strives to improve the quality of the race by better coordination and better logistics.
The minister said that he hopes to see the times in the event being lowered and encouraged the riders to aim for lower timings.
He also thanked the local cyclists for participating and said he would like to see some new stars emerging from the event.
The minister welcomed the overseas riders and encouraged them to enjoy the Guyanese hospitality. He also urged all the riders to make the event the best road race to be staged.
Director of Sport, Neil Kumar, assured the cyclists a safe ride throughout all five stages as he said he had spoken to the Commissioner of Police and the Divisional Commanders. Kumar added that all the prizes are in place for the top 10 finishers.
Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, in a brief statement, mentioned that although the event was a collaborative work of the GCF, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and his ministry, it was a health event. Dr. Ramsammy said the larger goal was to encourage every Guyanese to be physically active whether in cycling or any other sport.
He added that he was delighted with the growth of the event pointing out that the increased number of foreign riders competing in the tour is testament of its growth.
He also mentioned that the two ministries have the ambition of making the event the premier cycling event in the Caribbean.
Dr. Ramsammy stressed that his ministry will continue to support the event and urged the private sector to do so also as it has the potential to become something grand.
The health minister mentioned that he has been working with the Ministry of Tourism to make the Tour of Guyana a calendar event in tourism, as there are major plans by the government for the event and cycling in Guyana.
Dr. Ramsammy thanked all the riders and adjudged them all winners saying that each one of them will be contributing towards making the event a success.
Also at the briefing were National Cycling Coach Hassan Mohamed; Community Mobilization Coordinator Nazim Hussein and Programme Manager, National AIDS Programme Secretariat, Dr Shanti Singh.
Meanwhile, medical equipment and personnel will be on hand throughout the five stages in case any rider needs medical attention.
Last year’s winners
Overall Winner – Antonio Quintero
Junior – Paul DeNobrega (10Hrs/22Mins/35Secs)
Veteran – Antonio Quintero (10Hrs/18Mins/26Secs)