Jean-Michel La Chance took the opening stage of the Tobago International Cycle Classic in Buccoo, yesterday. Under the blazing Tobago sun the Vita Malt team leader captured the Division One ten-lap circuit race which started at the entrance to the Coral Gardens Housing Development. The win is the second straight for the Canadian rider on the island after he rode away with the Tobago leg of the Unity Tour of T&T in September. The riders were lined up for the 8.30 am start but were delayed for about 20 minutes. The cyclists proceeded along the Shirvan Road up the Claude Noel Highway through Carnbee before returning to Buccoo. American Lee Muse (Spy Watts-Up) took the runner-up spot ahead of Spy teammate Christian Varley (Isle of Man). Speaking after the win, La Chance said his familiarity with the course was a key to his triumph.
I did this route on a few occasions as I competed in the Classic before. Today, it was a bit different because of the changes as a result of the construction (of the round about at Auchenskeoch) but yet the course was similar (as before). I was conservative earlier on holding back.” He added that he moved up among the leaders after the seventh lap. “With three laps left there were six of us. I was alone (in front) for one lap (after that) and then the guys came back on me. But soon as that happened a guy from Spy attacked and then I knew I had to go if I wanted a shot of winning. I went with him and at the end I sprinted for the win.” The Atlanta, USA-based rider added that he had to hydrate frequently because of the hot weather conditions during the race. He said much was expected of his Vita Malt team by the local fans as Tobagonian Emile Abraham is usually the captain. Abraham was unable to compete this year as he is being treated for dengue.
In the Division two five-lap event, Stuart Maloney (Barbados) won, with local riders filling four of the top five placings. Roger Smart (Madonna Wheelers) was second ahead of Alexander Gibbon (Heat Wave), Ronnie Moses (Heat Wave) and Nicholas Lopez (Madonna Wheelers). La Chance will begin today’s second stage at Mt Irvine as the leader wearing the yellow shirt. He rates the course as a challenging one. Varley will start today in the green shirt as the Sprint King leader. Race director Jeffrey Charles explained that La Chance had amassed more sprint points but could not wear both the yellow and green shirts. Since Varley was second he was next in line. Today’s race is carded to start at Mt Irvine Beach Facility at 8 am. Riders will traverse Orange Hill Road up to Spring Garden Extension unto Plymouth Road, Les Coteaux Village. They will continue through Plymouth and Black Rock returning to Mt Irvine.
Divison one (Ten laps)
1 Jean Michel Lachance Canada Vita Malt
2 Lee Muse USA Spy Watts-Up
3 Christian Varley Isle of Man Spy Watts-Up
4 Darren Matthews Barbados Toco Coco
5 Lukas Stoiber Austria Vita Malt
Division two (Five laps)
1 Stuart Maloney Barbados
2 Roger Smart T&T Madonna Wheelers
3 Alexander Gibbon T&T Heat Wave
4 Ronnie Moses T&T Heat Wave
5 Nicholas Lopez T&T Madonna Wheelers
Schedule Tomorrow: Plymouth Criterium (50 laps)-3.00pm Saturday: Scarborough Criterium (60 laps)-10.00am Sunday: UCI 1.2 Tour of Tobago (112km)Start and finish at Scarborough Esplanade-9.00am