Smith is cycling champ again

Michele Smith (centre) hoists his hardware with Michael Testori (left) and Jerome Ameline (right).

Veteran cyclist Michele Smith is the Cayman Islands Cycling Association season champion, finishing atop the standings for the second consecutive year due to steady performances on the road during 2017.

“It wasn’t as good as last year. I didn’t put in as much work, but I was consistent [and] I guess that’s what counts,” the 47-year-old told

Smith claimed the 2017 crown after the season finale on Sunday, 29 October. The Cost U Less Circuit Race was held a week later than initially scheduled because of a wet course the week earlier. That nearly happened again as what turned out to be Tropical Storm Phillipe drenched Grand Cayman for much of the weekend. However, conditions improved considerably enough to hold the event Sunday morning – even though with a field of only eight riders, considerably less than the norm.

On the day, David Cooke, who was back on the saddle for competitive racing after missing much of the season due to injury, stole the show along with Super Masters rider Laurent Weber. The pair broke free from the small field and gave themselves nearly a 30-second lead with three laps to go, extending that as they pressed toward the finish.

Cooke edged Weber in a sprint to the line by 0.023 seconds. Nearly two minutes later, the peloton turned off West Bay Road for the finish. This time it was Michael Testori finishing ahead of Smith to take third place on the day.

Cooke (left) edges Weber to the finish to win the final race of the season.

When the final season standings were announced, it was Smith, a two-time Olympian, who was on the top of the podium with 76 points, with Testori second with 69 points. Testori pushed Ameline into third place – the pair finished with the same amount of points but Testori got the tie-breaker due to more wins throughout the 2017 campaign.

Fourth was Weber and Daniel Cummings, who was second in the standings entering the final race but did not compete, slipped to fifth. Jonathan Webster was sixth, Josh Weaver was seventh and James Smith was eighth. Jamie Hughes and Steven Abbott rounded out the top 10.

Former champion Ameline said he’s happy with how the season went and though he made ended with a top-3 finish, that was not his biggest accomplishment this year.

“I kind of took it easy and didn’t do any special training. I was more helping Michael Testori for him to win the May [Dew] Classics, while still trying to make the podium. I didn’t make the podium, but the job was done because he finished first,” Ameline said.

He added that he’s now showing up just for the fun. “It’s over. It’s over. For me, I’m 42, so it’s just enjoying myself because I don’t have anything to prove.”

Smith also was glad to see 24-year-old Testori near the top of the standings, and while a changing of the guard is inevitable, he didn’t sound as though he’s ready to be bypassed just yet. “It’s good to see a young cyclist taking over the reins but I think next year is still going to be tough for him. I’ll still be here. I always have something to prove,” Smith said.

Smith: I always have something to prove.

Meantime, the cycling association’s president, Craig Merren, said he was pleased with the overall participation since the season started in March. However, Merren signalled changes could come to the 2018 calendar.

“Next year, there’s going to be some tweaking to the schedule and look to complete the season around August or September. We’re going to have more intense racing, more circuit races, maybe throw in a criterium, a time trial and a handicap road race,” he told

Merren said the association plans to include off-road events to its schedule. “We have some interested parties who would like to do mountain bikes or cycle-cross – a mixed event which is becoming very popular. It also encourages those who have beach cruisers, mountain bikes and cycle-cross bikes.”

He said he believes this will attract not only younger riders but others in their 40s and 50s who may not be up for the challenge of the high-speed races on the roads with the more competitive riders.

Many cyclists have already turned their attention to the Cayman Island Triathlon taking place next weekend (5 November).

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