By Emmerson Campbell
Guyanese Mark Lewis led four of his countrymen into the top six at the end of the third stage of the ‘Ride for Life’ five-stage cycle race yesterday.
Lewis, from Linden, won the 35-mile event in a time of 58 minutes and 58 seconds.
The local riders could have made a clean sweep of the top six positions if Danish Michael Larsen of the California-based Team Exustar had not edged out Leer Nunes for fifth place.
Team Exustar is sponsored by Paso Prime Beef Company of U.S.A.
The Lindener led junior rider Raynauth Jeffrey, national captain, Robin Persaud, first stage winner Godfrey Pollydore, Larsen and Nunes across the finish line in that order.
Just before the start of the fourth stage today at Suddie, Lewis will be presented with the green jersey for winning the third stage.
Lewis’s performance, however, was not enough to unseat Larsen’s teammate Jonathan Teeter as the overall leader of the tour. The American Teeter, who was second in the first stage, won the second stage in record time and also finished in the bunch with a bunch time of 59 minutes and 38 seconds.
The race which commenced at 9am in front of Wales Police Station and ended at Parika, featured 36 starters who set a fair pace for the first 200 metres.
After that Albert Philander powered away from the field and began a race of his own. Philander was followed by Team Exustar’s Adam Carr, Henner Rodel, Nicholas Sorrensen, Larsen and Teeter along with Barbadian Jamal Eastman and Guyana’s Enzo Matthews.
Matthews stepped up the pace and overtook Philander at Stanleytown. However, Matthews could not sustain his pace and was joined at Nismes village by Teeter and Lewis.
At Bagotville, a prime prize (interval prize) was up for grabs and Lewis stepped up his pace and rode ahead of Teeter capturing the prime prize. The mining town cyclist opened up a lead for a while before he was caught at the Demerara Harbour Bridge by a bunch that included Persaud, Carr, Matthews, 17-year-old Jeffrey and Cazala Christophe.
This pack travelled together until the American riders joined them and took the lead. Lewis, who seemed to be in prime prize winning mood, pedalled out of ‘nowhere’ to grab the second prime prize as well.
The race slowed for a period and all 36 riders were in a huge bunch until a group of them, including Marlon ‘Fishy‘ Williams, the Americans, Jeffrey, Pollydore, Persaud, Paul DeNobrega, Nunes and Eastman opened a lead at Ruimzight on the rest of the peloton.
At Hague, however, an uncooperative driver did not heed the siren of the police vehicle and failed to pull over. The unfortunate event caused the riders to be sandwiched in a traffic jam.
Lewis, who was out of the top 10 at that time, used that opportunity to pounce on the rest of riders, pedaling away from the pack and opening up a lead that he never relinquished.
Jeffrey pursued Lewis and caught up with him at Stewartville. At De Kinderen village, a fierce sprint involving Persaud and junior rider Paul DeNobrega ensued in a last ditch attempt to catch up with Jeffrey and Lewis. The duo was followed by Williams, Pollydore, Nunes and Sorrensen.
Despite the challenge by the chasing pack, the two Guyanese, Jeffrey and Lewis, were not caught.
Lewis and young Jeffrey increased their pace and rode together until about 50 metres before the finish line. Lewis, the stronger and more experienced rider of the two, powered away from Jeffrey earning the third stage victory.
Today the penultimate stage will commence at 07:30 hrs at Supenaam and conclude at Suddie (62 miles) while tomorrow, the final stage will begin at 8:30 hrs with the cyclists riding from Linden and finishing on Homestretch Avenue 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.