NatWest Island Games XIV – Isle of Wight

Graham Robins reports on the cycling from the NatWest Island Games XIV – Isle of Wight

From Graham Robins,

Day One
The cycling got underway on Sunday with a town centre criterion in Ventnor on the south of the Island. The morning started with a sea mist but this soon burnt of leaving a lovely hot sunny day with the temperatures in the high 20’s. The course a tight twisty circuit right in the middle of town drew a large crowd which really got into the spirit of the atmosphere by cheering all the riders.

The Women’s race was up first for the 35 min plus 5 lap race. The very strong teams from Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man were soon on the pace and pulling out a large gap over the remaining riders. Once we got to the five laps to go the group at the front was down to five and Ann Bowditch(Guernsey) just ahead of Laura Wasley (Isle of Man) and Kim Ashton (Jersey) taking the bronze. The Women’s team prize was won by Guernsey with Isle of Man taking the silver and Jersey the bronze.

The men’s race had a large field of 57, and on the second turn there was a heavy crash requiring the race to stopped which the ambulance and medial crews could deal with the injured riders. Once the riders had cleared the crash scene it was only three riders that were injured and one was removed from the course in the ambulance.
After a gap of a few minutes the race was restarted and soon the large crowd were soon cheering their local heroes once more. The race soon split up in two groups which towards the end of the race were going to cause headache for the commissars’. The men race was 1hr and five laps, but long before the lap board the front group caught the back of the first group of riders who weren’t in the race as such as there was a larger group in front of them still trying to close the leaders down.

The leaders made it past the stragglers quite easy and soon were back up to speed again. A few laps later the caught the back of the chasing bunch but could not find a way past. Lap after lap the commissars and commentator pleaded with the group to let the leaders through and after four laps they relented and let the nine leading riders past.
Now once clear and back up to speed it came down to the final five laps and it was Toby Horton (Guernsey) four seconds clear of Greg Mansell (Jersey) with Indrek Rannama (Saaremaa) collecting the bronze medal.

Day Two
The second day saw the mountain bike criterion high up on top of Shorwell, the highest part of the Island and the furthest away from and houses. This was a private farm land set on a hill side with beautiful vistas of most of the island.

The Women’s race was dominated by Menorca rider Ruth Moll who totally smashed the race taking an early lead and overtaking most of the field before crossing the line well clear to claim gold. Ann Bowditch (Guernsey) collected here second medal of the games with silver and Jacqui Fletcher (Isle of Man) took the bronze.

The men’s race was 50mins plus one lap. After the first couple of laps a strong group of ten riders pulled out a gap of the chasers. The group contained riders from Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. After half distance Rob Smart made a attack and got clear on the twisty in field and left three team mates on the front of the chasing bunch to control the race. With a couple of laps to go the other Guernsey riders broke free of the bunch and completed and total lock out of the podium. James Roe was second and Andrew Colver took the bronze. There wasn’t a team prize here.

Day Three
The third day of cycle competition was the Men and Women’s Road Race. The course was held on the undulating roads on the South West of the Island, finishing at Blackgang just over the punishing climb. The women were to do 3.5 laps and a total of 75km and the men did 5.5 laps and 118km.

The morning started wet and windy for the women with a shower five minutes before they set off. The morning got better and by the end of the race the sun had returned to the island.
The fifteen women rolled through the start all together but as soon as the pace increased three fell away. Before they had covered half a lap there was a strong group of five on the front with two close by. The leading group contained yesterdays mountain bike crit winner Ruth Moll (Menorca), team mates Kim Ashton and Sue Townsend (Jersey) and Karina Bowie and Ann Bowditch (Guernsey). This group stayed away for the whole race with only one rider managing to get close to joining them and that was Christine McLean (Shetland Islands).

The decisive attack came with about 500m to go when Kim Ashton attacked but before the summit of Blackgang and “big ringed it” all the way to the finish line where she beat Ruth Moll to the gold medal by a clear four seconds with Ann Bowditch continuing here fine form at the games by collecting bronze.

The men’s race saw a strong group break free of the bunch after a couple of laps. The group contained two riders from the Isle of Man Andrew Roach, Christian Varley, two from the Isle of Wight, Nick Hutchings and Kieran Page along with Richard Tanguy (Jersey) James McLaughlin (Guernsey) and Mihkel Räim (Saaremaa).

The leaders soon opened up a large gap over the chasing bunch but soon the gap was over five minutes and eventually they got a gap of over 10 minutes. The seven riders took the bell and headed out on the last lap all together. They stayed together until the top of Blackgang when James attacked and took Mihkel with him. These two were now sprinting downhill all the way to the finish with Mihkel just beating James by a bike length on the line. Andrew Roach (Isle of Man) was 6secs behind with team mate Christian Varley a further 19 secs down. The bunch started to roll in 13 minutes down and all spread out, with the last classified rider 29 mins behind the winner. The team prize went to the Isle of Man with Guernsey taking silver and Saaremaa the bronze.