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Cycling pedals to self sustainability
Guardian Media Sports Desk continues with its review of the year 2017, and today the sport of cycling holds centre stage as we show our appreciation to our sportsmen and sportswomen.
If the T&T Cycling Federation, being led by Robert Farrier has its way, the sport could find itself in a better position financially and otherwise.
Farrier, during a reflection of a bumper 2017 year that saw the return of Olympic cyclist Njisane Phillip back to local competition, remembered attracting its largest crowds to local competition, as well as his federation’s first time staging the Elite Pan American Cycling Championship at its state-of-the art National Cycling Centre in Balmain Couva.
Following a competitive National Championship season early in the year, the popular Easter International Cycling Grand Prix at the Arima Velodrome and the NCC, provided one of the sport’s spectacles in 2017 as Phillip, who returned to claim the prestigious Match Sprint title from a competitive field that comprised riders from Colombia, Argentina and Canada among other nations.
An expected clash with another sprint ace Quincy Alexander from T&T did generate expectations of an all local showdown in the final, but it never materialised as Alexander, the match sprint champion in 2014, failed to secure a place in the final.
Alexander though rebounded in the Keirin and claimed the win despite a challenging field that comprised mostly of his competitors in the earlier sprints.
In the meanwhile, his name-sake Adam Alexander, who has dominated endurance racing for many years, made his presence felt by claiming victory in the feature ride.
The performances at the Grand Prix had set the stage for a showdown between the TT and the international contingent at the Elite Pan Am Senior Track Championship in August, but before that could take place, the TT duo of Jevan Samuel and Akile Campbell won the Road Event for Juniors in Barbados.
Their achievements were followed by equally entertaining gold medal performances by junior cyclist Enrique de Comarmond in the Time Trial and Road Race of the Junior Caribbean Road Championship in Barbados.
Cycling queen Tiniel Campbell enjoyed a stand out season, winning nearly every event she competed in.
Apart from her dominance at the national championships, the lanky Campbell sprinted to the titles in the Time Trial and the 40 kilometre endurance race at the Elite Road Championship in Martinique.
The highlight of the year however came at the elite pan am championship which provided first-time experiences for T&T, both on and off the tracks.
On the tracks T&T’s Men’s team of Phillip, Kwesi Brown and junior sprint ace Nicholas Paul gave up the opportunity at winning a first-time Pan Am gold medal in the Team Sprint.
After clocking the fastest time in the earlier round the TT trio produced a significantly slower 45.08 seconds in the final ride that earned them silver medal, allowing Colombia’s team of Fabian Puerta, Santiago Ramirez and Ruben Murillo to capture the gold in a time of 44.54 seconds.
Later however Quincy Alexander gave T&T its second medal at the Championships by bagging a bronze in the men’s kilometre time trial, his first ride of the tournament.
T&T also enjoyed good performances in the Team Pursuit from the quartet of Varun Maharajh, Govian Gomes, Akile Campbell and Adam Alexander who had to settle for the Caribbean title, while its first-time Women’s team in the Team Pursuit event, saw them receiving silver medal among the regional competitors.
Meanwhile then President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Brian Cookson made his first visit to T&T for the event. He was joined by president of the Pan American Cycling Confederation (COPACI) Jose Perez, president of Caribbean Cycling Trevor ‘Sailor’ Bailey and president of European cycling David Lappartient, who is now new UCI president.
The close of 2017 ended with T&T cycling president Farrier becoming only the first TT official to be appointed to the UCI where he will serve on the Solidarity and Small Countries Commission.
Farrier promised he will use his position to advance the sport locally and in the Caribbean, including making TT cycling self sustainable.
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