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Western Isles Island Games Association
Comann Geamannan Eileanach nan Eilean Siar
 

Bermuda 2013 - Cycling

Cycling Report

Bermuda Time Trial Team

Team Manager: Gavin Earons
Assistant Team Manager: Anne Marie Mitchell
Athletes: Kerry Macphee, Christina Mackenzie, John Neil Mitchell, Ruairidh Michie and Gavin Earons

Race Reports

Men's Road Race July 14th

The cycling events in Bermuda opened with the Men's 110k road race. The route was 11 laps of a rolling, twisty 10k loop, there was only 2k of flat which came at about 7k mark which took you on to a sharp climb up to the long drag up to the finish line. The weather was very hot and humid with a strong breeze.

Mens Road Race Team

All three riders (John Neil Mitchell, Ruairidh Michie and Gavin Earons) started well and were comfortably in the peleton despite the high pace being set. Gavin was the first to hit problems, running wide on a corner at the back of the pack he found himself heading towards a wall. He braked hard to avoid a crash but the near miss caused him to drop off the back of the peleton. Despite chasing hard he could not catch them and ended up on a solo ride.

Four laps later he caught up with Ruairidh. He was at the side of the road having his back wheel changed as a result of a crash earlier in the lap which had damaged his wheel. He had been making his way back to the start when the Bermudan team’s support crew spotted his problem and had very generously offered him one of their spare wheels. Gavin waited until the new wheel was fixed and hoped to work with Ruairidh for a while but Ruairidh had other ideas! He raced off at top speed in an ultimately vain attempt to catch the peleton. Gavin carried on on his own but pulled out after being lapped. Ruairidh eventually paid the price for going off too fast after his wheel problem and, after missing a crucial water bottle handover, he began to really struggle and sensibly pulled out at the end of the next lap.

John Neil fared much better and, despite the heat and high speed (almost 40kph average for the race distance), he was able to sit in the pack for around 80k before he started suffering from leg cramps. He was forced to drop off the pace but gamely fought on to finish the race in 26th place.

WIIGA had no team in the Women’s Road Race because both our team members were taking part in the Triathlon event which took place at the same time.


Time Trial July 16th

The next event was the Time Trial, the men riding 6 laps and the women 5 laps of the same 4.5 mile circuit. Roughly half the course was a twisting, undulating narrow road ridden into the wind before turning back downwind to the finish line over a short climb to the highest point of the course.

Time Trial Team Podium

The WIIGA ladies recovered unbelievably well from their Gold Medal winning Triathlon exertions of only two days before and rode superbly to take the bronze medal in the team event. Christina and Kerry both took just over 59 minutes for the 22.5 mile course with Christina finishing less than three seconds ahead of Kerry to take 9th place with Kerry finishing in 10th. What a start to Bermuda for these two ladies – following up their Gold medal winning performances in the Triathlon with a bronze medal in this event was quite outstanding.

The men’s team did not fare as well but they gave their all and no-one can ask more than that. Gavin was first away and got off to an unfortunate start – a marshal directed him up the wrong road and two minutes after leaving the starting gate he found himself back at the start. It’s fair to say that this had no significant bearing on his race – he would still have finished last! However, he was disappointed with his time – he suffered badly in the heat and still felt heavy legged after the road race of two days before. I am sure the same could be said of Ruairidh and John Neil but they recovered better and both cycled well in tough conditions - John Neil’s average speed was almost 24mph which was a superb effort in those conditions.

The WIIGA Men’s Team finished in 8th position.

I think it is worth highlighting the class of the opposition in the cycling events – Isle of Man rider Andrew Roche (a former professional with a Belgian cycling team) won the time trial event for the fourth time in a row with an average speed of close to 30mph! There were also at least 4 members of Nigel Mansell’s UK Youth team taking part – riding for different islands in this case but riding their pro team bikes. UK Youth are ranked second only to Team Sky (the team that includes Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and in 2012 Mark Cavendish) in the British Rankings.


Crit Race July 18th

Kerry Macphee Christina Mackenzie

This is a particularly spectator friendly event in that it involves riding multiple laps of a short course for a specified time (50mins for men and 30mins for women) and then doing 5 more laps. In this case the 0.7 mile lap included a 180 degree turn round a traffic island, four 90 degree bends and a short but very steep climb (and matching descent).

Owing to the highly technical nature of the course and flat out racing from the start, Gavin decided he didn’t have the skills required to safely compete in this event and pulled out.

First up were the ladies and once again they came up trumps with Kerry Macphee picking up a second cycling bronze to go with her two Triathlon Gold medals! Straight from the start, Kerry raced to the head of the field and kept herself out of trouble by staying towards the head of the pack for lap after lap. Christina couldn’t find the same rhythm as she had in the Time Trial and slowly drifted off the back of the pack to finish in 12h place. Kerry, on the other hand, just kept on going!

The lead riders kept piling on the pressure and slowly the other riders dropped off the pace leaving a lead group of six riders to fight it out for the medal positions. Kerry made a bold bid to win from the front but the sprinters in the group were just able to hang on to her wheel and then outkick her at the finish – she won bronze but missed out on a second gold by less than one second!

John Neil Mitchell Ruaraidh Michie

A few minutes later, the teams lined up for the start of the men’s race. The gun went off and a Faroese rider tried to race off the line - unfortunately his foot failed to clip in, his foot slid off the pedal and he crashed to the ground bringing Ruairidh down with him. By the time the pair had disentangled their bikes and got going they were already a couple of hundred metres behind the pack. The race director shouted at them both to take a lap out and rejoin the race on the next lap (this would have been without penalty) but unfortunately neither rider heard and they set off in pursuit of the field. They were unable to bridge the gap and were eventually pulled out of the race by the organizers just before they would have been lapped by the peleton.

John Neil made a valiant attempt to hang on to the pack but the pace (and the temperature!) was just too hot. Slowly the pack began breaking up and John Neil found himself riding with a small group who were gradually distanced by the field until they too were pulled out as the lead riders started to catch them. Once again the strength of the competition was in evidence, four of the first five riders home, although riding for three different islands, were riding identical bikes and were team mates in the UK Youth racing team.
 

Summary

The ladies team did superbly – winning team and individual bronze medals in hot, humid conditions against the quality of opposition that exists in the cycling events is no mean achievement. However, the men have a way to go before they are likely to be considered medal contenders. Everyone gained valuable experience and all are now fully aware of the scale of the Island Games and what a wonderful opportunity it gives to Islanders to compete in sport at a high level. The whole team were enthused by the experience and left Bermuda with a desire to come back fitter and faster for Jersey in 2015.
 

Where do we go from here?

Our Hebridean weather and the lack of a strong club structure means that the group of riders who regularly ride on the road is quite small – no ladies and less than half a dozen men regularly turn out for the Hebridean Cycle Club’s (HCC) Wednesday night club ride. Newcomers tend not to come back because the pace is normally pretty hot. I would like to introduce some regular easy paced club rides and junior sessions to encourage more people to come along and get involved in the sport. The more people involved, the greater the chance of finding riders who can be coached to a level that would allow them to be considered for WIIGA team selection.

The Hebridean Cycle Challenge was the only cycle racing event on the islands but in 2014 the Hebridean Cycle Club are organising an “Audax” event with a choice of distances 100k, 200k and 300k. I hope to arrange some shorter distance events to help people prepare for these longer distance events. Hopefully some new talent will emerge in that process.

The Hebridean Cycle Club have regular group rides on the new cycle trails in Lews Castle Grounds in Stornoway. I attend these and there are some strong riders in the group – including one exceptional teenager. Unfortunately, most of them enjoy the downhill sections more than the uphill ones and are not really interested in Cross Country MTB racing – but it is a start. I intend arranging some MTB events in the Castle grounds with a view to developing a stronger racing ethos on the island – Paul Smith and I showed a few years back that you can live and train in the Hebrides and still compete well at a national level.

We have to make sure that the profile of the games is kept high in the press and encourage anyone who thinks they might be good enough (across all sports – not just cycling) to get in touch with us and send in their competition results.

Cycling Team
Kerry Macphee
Kerry Macphee
Christina Mackenzie
Christina Mackenzie

John Neil Mitchell
John Neil Mitchell

Ruaraidh Michie
Ruaraidh Michie

Ruaraidh Michie
Gavin Earons

 


 
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Western Isles Island Games Association
Comann Geamannan Eileanach nan Eilean Siar