By Emmerson Campbell
Top veteran cyclist Robin Persaud led Orville Hinds, Walter Grant–Stewart and Geron Williams in lapping the rest of the field of 29 starters yesterday in the feature 35-lap invitational race staged by national cycling coach Hassan Mohammed and Universal Auto and General Supplies in an 11-race meet.
The event which pedaled off on the inner circuit of the National Park, Thomas Lands was the eighth year that Universal Auto and General Supplies has teamed up with Mohammed to sponsor the ‘Teach Them Young’ programme.
Persaud, who also copped three prime prizes, won the race in one hour, 17 minutes and 53 seconds. Potential London Olympian Alonzo Greaves was fifth and top junior rider Raynauth Jeffrey pedaled in sixth.
Differently-abled Grant-Stewart also earned four prime prizes while one went to the rapidly improving Lindener Hinds.
The event, which attracted the crème-de-la-crème of local riders, started off at a high pace with the top four of Persaud, Hinds, Grant-Stewart and Williams setting the tone from the starting pistol.
By the third lap the four riders had already established a sizeable lead on the rest of the field.
This lead peloton was pursued by Greaves, Eric Sankar, Jeffrey, Junior Niles, and last year’s winner Enzo Matthews, among others. However the leaders worked together to increase their lead and by the 20th lap they had lapped the entire field.
Williams, who was sharing the lead at lap 28, suffered a puncture and lost ground as he had to change wheels leaving Grant Stewart, Persaud and Hinds. Two laps later Grant–Stewart also suffered the misfortune of a punctured front tyre and also lost ground while changing his wheel.
The race was now in the hands of Hinds and the experienced Persaud. With 200 metres to the finish line, Hinds and Persaud were still together but Hinds pounced on Persaud and began his sprint to the finish. Persaud pursued Hinds and used his superior sprinting ability and powered himself across the finish line to take the victory.
Before the invitational race, Shameer Baksh, manager of Universal Auto and General Supplies, rode off with the Veterans under-50, five–lap first place trophy and the prime prize beating UK-based Stephan Hinckson and Bochel Samaroo into second and third respectively.
Linden native Michael Anthony won the juniors and juveniles 10-lap race and the two prime prizes in a time of 22 minutes and 36 seconds ahead of Raul Leal and Jeffrey.
Adrian Sharma won the BMX boys 12 to 14 years, three-lap race ahead of Khemraj Sanichar and Yousuff Latiff respectively.
Kapel Dev Bisham won the boys nine-to-12 years, three-lap race ahead of Jamal Arthur and Bryton John respectively.
Isaiah and Ken Sahadeo occupied the top two spots respectively in the two-lap BMX boys six-to-nine year’s race, while Nicholas D’Andrade had to settle for the third position.
Makel Diaz took top honours in the three-lap BMX boys Open race ahead of Ricardo Sharma and Adrian Sharma. In the 12-to-14-years, boys and girls, three-lap race, Alfie Sonaram, Marica Dick and Komal Harripersaud were the top three finishers in that order. The prime prize however went to Dick.
In the five-lap Veterans over-50 race, Virgil Jones was first, followed by Wilfred Thom and Courtney Hackett respectively. Maurice Fagundes was the only starter in the Veterans over-60 years, five-lap race and took the award.
Dexter Wilson and Kester Croal were the only entrants for the Upright cycle race which was won by Wilson. Croal however took the prime prize.
At the prize giving ceremony, Mohammed thanked Universal Auto and General Supplies manager Baksh for his sponsorship and the cyclists for participating in the meet and making the programme a successful one.
Mohamed also announced that the 30th annual three-stage cycle road race will pedal off on May 12 in Corriverton.
The national cycling coach also disclosed that following the three-stage event, he plans on staging an 11-race cycling programme in the National Park to honour the late Ulric Pollydore who was a former Guyana Cycling Federation president and a former president of the Kaieteur Cycling Club. Pollydore who was a close friend of Mohamed is the father of top veteran cyclist Godfrey Pollydore.