By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
TYLER Cole came to town and outsprinted Lee Farmer to carry the Bahamas Cycling Federation’s 92-mile road race overall title home to Trinidad & Tobago. However, the national title went to third place finisher Anthony ‘Biggie’ Colebrooke.
Tyler and Farmer, a New Zealand resident here, came through the finish line of Sunday’s race at the Heritage Park after they broke away from the pack during the six-lap event around the western end of the island.
Despite the wet surface from the pouring rain, Tyler battled the odds and clocked three hours, 59 minutes and 39.98 seconds to hold off Farmer, who came through almost a wheel length behind in 3:59:40.49.
“It was pretty good. To be quite honest, I was pretty happy that despite the weather conditions, I was still able to win the race,” said a 19-year-old Cole, who competed in the Bahamas for the second time. “When the sun actually came out, it made the conditions a lot better. But I knew I had a good group of competitors behind me. So I made a break for it and the other guy came with me and we went for it and I managed to outsprint him.”
The performance was much better for Cole, who competed here two years ago in the Commonwealth Youth Games where he didn’t make the podium. He said with the nationals being sanctioned by the Union Cycliste International (UCI), he decided to come back and gained some international points.
For the 48-year-old Farmer, he was hoping to remain the name of ‘bridesmaid’ after finishing second in the past two years and regained the crown he held a couple of times before he suffered an injury that almost kept him away from cycling.
“It was good. It was long,” said Farmer as he emphasized the 92-mile distance. “The guy from Trinidad took off early and we sat there chasing him. He was strong, but I managed to catch him.
“He attacked with about 22 miles and we rode together. I caught a cramp coming to the line and he was much powerful than I was with my old man legs. It was about half my age.”
While there was a showdown between Cole and Farmer, Colebrooke said he just wanted to beat out the Bahamian contingent so that he could become the new national champion.
He did it in the second sprint to the line in 4:05:57.83 for third overall, but first in the field of Bahamian competitors to take the title over his younger brother Felix Neely and Spanish Wells’ Lorin Sawyer.
“After two weeks of not being on my bike, it was pretty tough,” said Colebrooke, who had to take some time off because of work. “I was trying to help my brother out. It was rough with the peloton watching you.
“But my main focus was just to get the jersey as the Bahamian champion. So I knew once the Trinidad rider and Lee had gone, I had to hold off the other two competitors so I could win. I knew I could beat them at the sprint.”
Colebrooke, 23, last won the national title two years ago.
Neely, one of the rising young stars being groomed to compete in the sport, came through the line in 4:05:57.98. He was quite pleased with his performance, considering he was the youngest in the field at age 16.
“The race was very intense and it was hard,” he said. “I did a lot of work so I feel good about my performance. I feel much stronger. I was right there until the 86th mile when I started to cramp up. So I just decided to ride through it.
“I am still young and I have a lot more time to win, so I’m just happy that my brother won.”
Two years ago, Sawyer brought his first boke to do some therapy on a torn ligament in his knees. The 35-year-old said he took the advice of persons who encouraged him to try cycling. His performance showed why it was a good decision.
“It was okay. I am thankful,” said Sawyer, a native of Spanish Wells, Eleuthera. “The brothers had the numbers on me. They were pretty much working as a team. I expected it to work in their favor.”
Sawyer, however, said he can take consolation in the fact that he was crowned the time trial winner on Saturday. However, he felt he may have exerted too much energy in winning in 52:05.012 over Cole, who did 53:245.96, and didn’t have anything left in the tank for the road race.
The winner of the ladies’ division was Marla Albury, also from Spanish Wells. She was encouraged to come to the nationals and represent her husband Chad Albury, who was unable to get time off from his engineering job in Saudia Arabia.
“It was awesome. I didn’t expect it. Chad was trying to get me to come here to compete for years, but I didn’t believe I was as competitive,” she said. “I did it and I’m glad that I did it. I’m thanking Chad now that I did. It was awesome. I was surprised I won my first time doing it so that’s good.”
In the time trials on Saturday, Albury clocked 1:09:02.07 to beat out Lori Roach, who did 1:11:58.23. In Sunday’s road race, Albury won in 3:25:37.00 over Antoniece Simmons, her nearest rival, who did 3:41:38.80.
Bahamas Cycling Federation president Roy Colebrook, who along with New Providence Cycling Association president Barron ‘Turbo’ Musgrove conducted the event, said it was another success.
“We had a great weekend. We have been doing this event for 46 years and we had some great performances this year,” he said. “The UCI is now sanctioning our event so we are now attracting competitors from the Caribbean for them to gain some international points.”
During the awards presentation, the federation honored brothers Lawrence, Jeffery, Franklyn and Drexel Burnside, who all made their contribution to the sport, either as competitors or administrators.