By Emmerson Campbell
He might be a `Teeny Bopper’ but rising cycle star Raynauth Jeffrey has once again proven that he has what it takes to compete with the big boys.
Yesterday the 17-year-old Jeffrey, who has been a consistent performer over the last year, sped off with the 15th annual Dr. Cheddi Jagan Memorial 55-mile cycle road race taking the winner’s trophy as well as three of the eight sprint prizes and leaving a star-studded field that included seasoned veterans and potential London Olympians in his dust.
The talented junior led Warren ‘40’ McKay, Robin Persaud, potential Olympian Alonzo Greaves, last year’s winner Junior Niles and another potential London Olympian Geron Williams into the top six in that order.
Jeffrey, who also copped an award for being the top junior finisher ahead of Raul Leal and Paul DeNobrega, won the event in two hours, 23 minutes and 29 seconds. Last year’s winning time was two hours, eight minutes and 39 seconds.
The event, which was sponsored by BK International, attracted 49 riders including two females Naomi Singh and Berbician Marica Dick and started at New Amsterdam, proceeded to the Number 55 village and ended at Port Mourant, the birth village of the late former president.
The riders were sent on their way by Sports Minister Dr. Frank Anthony and Niles started out quickly copping the first prime. He was pursued by DeNobrega, Enzo Matthews, Greaves and Albert Philander.
Jeffrey and Newton would later join this bunch of riders but Niles, Jeffrey and Newton separated themselves at Number 3 Village. The trio would work together and interchange leads and by No. 12 Village opened a 150-metre lead on the chase peloton.
By Number 35 Village Marysburg, the lead had grown to about 200 metres and at Belvedere, where Newton sprinted for the prime prize; the lead had grown a further 50 metres.
At Tain Village, Matthews, DeNobrega, Walter Grant-stewart and junior rider, Davenand Bissoon staged a pursuit but this was shortlived on Grant-Stewart’s part as he was thrown off his bike by dog.
Another group of riders, that included Leal, Greaves and Persaud, also picked up their pace in pursuit of the lead trio of Niles, Newton and Jeffrey. At Bengal, the lead began to shrink as Bissoon, Persaud, Greaves, Newton, DeNobrega, Leal, Orville Hinds, McKay and Williams worked as a team to catch the lead trio.
At number 45 Village the lead pack was caught as McKay took a brief lead in the process capturing the prime that was up for grabs. Moments later Jeffrey retook the lead and the other prime ahead of a chasing McKay. Jeffrey and McKay were the race leaders at the turn back point at number 55 village but were joined at Number 49 Village by Williams, Persaud and Greaves. Four villages later, Grant-Stewart, Leal and DeNobrega would also join the leaders.
Persaud broke away at Eversham village but the pack of riders reconnected with him at Cromarty and at the village of Letter Kenny, the pace picked up as the finish line was just a few miles away.
These riders were still together some 200 metres from the finish line but Jeffrey pounced on the rest of the riders and sprinted to his way to glory.
Kennard Lovell, Mark Spencer and Virgil Jones received trophies for finishing as the top three Veterans. Alfie Sonoram and Monty Parris also received prizes for being the youngest and oldest participants respectively. Naomi Singh also received a trophy for the female category, as Dick suffered a punctured tyre.
At the prize giving ceremony which was held at the Jagan Memorial Memorial Monument at Babu John, Port Mourant, National cycling coach Hassan Mohamed thanked the sponsors, the cyclists and the media for covering the event. He also intimated that road races in the month of March will be dedicated to the former president and that meets will continue on the 11th on the West Coast of Demerara and on the 18th in Essequibo.
The 15th death anniversary of the late Cheddi Jagan, will be observed tomorrow.
Caption Caption Winners and runners up pose with their respective prizes yesterday at the completion of the 15th annual Cheddi Jagan Memorial 55-mile road race. (Orlando Charles photo)