Shaquel Agard is Three-Stage champion
By Avenash Ramzan
Nineteen-year-old Lindener Shaquel Agard on Sunday emerged champion of the Guyana Cycling Federation/National Sports Commission’s Three-Stage cycling event, after placing fourth on the final leg- a circuit race around the perimeters of the National Park.
Heading into the final stage with a 10 seconds lead over National Road Race champion Geron Williams, Agard did enough to maintain his pole position, finishing with a 13 seconds lead over runner-up and fellow Lindener Michael Anthony of Team Evolution.
Riding for Linden Bauxite Flyers, a club which he is one of the founders, Agard was timed at four hours, 40 minutes, 25 seconds (04h: 40m: 25s), while Anthony stopped the clock at four hours, 40 minutes, 38 seconds (04h: 40m: 38s).
Rounding off the top six paying positions were Williams (04h: 40m: 52s), Alanzo Greaves (04h: 41m: 30s), Hamzah Eastman (04h: 41m: 30s) and Walter Grant- Stuart (04h: 42m: 37s).
Christopher Cornelius, who finished 10th overall, was the leading junior with a time of four hours, 43 minutes, seven seconds (04h: 43m: 07s), followed by Andrew Hicks (04h: 43m: 38s) and Raphael Leung (04h: 44m: 43s) in that order.
Raymond Newton, who ended 11th overall, topped the Veterans category, clocking four hours, 43 minutes, 43 seconds (04h: 43m: 43s), while Paul Chooweenam (04h: 45m: 23s) and Junior Niles (04h: 49m: 23s) took second and third positions respectively.
In Sunday’s third and final stage, a 20-lap event, Greaves, making a return to the sport after a one year suspension, pipped Eastman in a photo finish that had officials resorting to the use of video footage and photographs to determine the winner.
In a tense sprint finish, Eastman started to celebrate an anticipated victory about five yards from the finish line, but Greaves made a spirited dash on the inside to steal the Team Coco’s rider’s glory.
Race official Joseph Britton stopped the clock at one hour, 53 minutes, five seconds (01h: 53m: 05s). Anthony took third, followed by Agard, Paul DeNobrega and Williams.
A total of 24 riders faced the starting line, and as early as the fifth lap, Greaves, Eastman, Williams, DeNobrega, Anthony and Agard went on a breakaway. They held together until the 11th lap when Greaves and DeNobrega proceeded on another breakaway.
However, the chasing pack, with the exception of Williams, who suffered a puncture, connected on lap 17, and gradually opened their lead over the others. That proved to be the beginning of the end, as the riders rode together until a sprint ensured on the final 100 metres.
In the opening leg on Saturday from Georgetown to Mahaicony and back, covering a distance of 65 miles, Williams outsprinted Greaves in a close finish.
Williams was clocked at two hours, 38 minutes, 46 seconds (02h: 38m: 46s). Greaves, along with Agard, Eastman, Anthony, Cornelius, Hicks and Grant Stuart, received the same time, while Newton, Chooweenam, Christopher Holder, DeNobrega, Christopher Griffith and Leung were timed at two hours, 39 minutes, 51 seconds (02h: 39m: 51s).
Later in the day, the riders competed in the Time Trial from Georgetown to Plaisance, a distance of 3.5 miles.
Agard recorded the fastest time, finishing the course in eight minutes, 42 seconds (08m: 42s). Rounding out the top 10 were Anthony (08m: 54s), Williams (08m: 57s), Cornelius (09m: 03s), Akeem Wilkinson (09m: 07s), Newton (09m: 13s), Leung (09m: 33s), Hicks (09m: 33s), Deeraj Garbarran (09m: 38s) and Eastman (09m: 51s).
Cover photo caption: Champion Shaquel Agard (right) receives his prize from national cycling coach Hassan Mohamed (Photos: Avenash Ramzan)