After 10 Year Absence, Christopher Returns to Claim Road Racing Title | Island Sun

After 10 Year Absence, Christopher Returns to Claim Road Racing Title

Caption: Darel Christopher Jr., leads Phillippe Leroy during the 65 miles National Road Racing Championships

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

After finishing second to Phillippe Leroy in the BVI Cycling Federation National Time Trials Championships on Saturday, because of safety reasons with a near crash, Darel Christopher Jr. won the 65 miles Road Racing Championships on Sunday, in his first time competing on home soil in 10 years.

Christopher Jr., finished the Time Trial in West End, in 51 minutes and 20 seconds behind Leroy’s 50 minute ride. Mark Stephenson was third in 54.02. He won the Road Race in 2 hrs 58 minutes and 55 seconds while Leroy was timed in 3:02 and Stephenson third in 3:33.

“On the first lap going down, everything was cool but on the way back up, there were a lot of holes, traffic got crazy, almost crashed and I decided mentally, it’s not worth risking for the time trial, let’s save it for the road race,” Christopher Jr. explained. “I have a lot of big events throughout the year to come so I just shut it down, rode in zone two and just finished.

Leroy was surprised with the victory. “He’s a pro and I’m an old man,” he said. “It should have been the opposite.”

Christopher Jr. said the road racing experience was great but he didn’t miss the wind going  from West End to Prospect Reef Roundabout three times. “The wind is like an invisible hill, it just gets harder and harder as the lap goes on and it’s like hitting the wall every single time and it hurts,” he said. “I prefer a climb versus this headwind.”

Leroy said at his age, it takes him three or four days to recover from the time trial and could be a factor in the road race. “Today, I was really beat up,” he said. “On the third lap when Darel Jr. attacked, I decided not to go after him, because if I did, I wouldn’t finish the race. I was hurting.”

Christopher Jr., who now lives and trains in Nice, France with Metropole, went from the gun, and said he wanted to see who would go with him and the goal was to finish in under three hours. When he looked at the time, Leroy started fading so he knew he had to go solo. “As the race got longer and longer, I continued to get stronger and stronger because I’m just accustomed to riding these long hours, so I just kept going harder and harder and harder, just kept picking it up slowly. The heat definitely didn’t help, but it was good.

Stephenson, who was third in both races, said he recently had Covid and was unable to train but felt good. “I was able to maintain my speed,” he said. “I didn’t have any help with the peloton. I was out there all by myself.”

Jumo Shotte won the two laps segment in 1 hr 39 minutes and 05 seconds, edging Amory Jervis. Otis Jacobs followed in 1:39.57.

“It was a great experience and I thought I could have done better, but because of work constraints, I didn’t get much riding time,” Shotte explained. “I was a wonderful event, but tough.”

Von Alphonso described it as an ‘interesting weekend’ as he wasn’t feeling well earlier in the week and was dehydrated and didn’t finish the time trial. “I had an impressive two laps with the guys but look out for me in the Jason Bally Memorial on October 9,” he said. “It’s going to be a different animal.”

Clifton “Tito” Forbes said he fell short of his goal to be competitive but did his best in the time trial, but it affected his road race and did not finish. “My legs didn’t have that energy in them,” he said.

Reflecting on the event, Cycling Federation President Darel Christopher Sr., said the traffic was a factor in the time trial. “You don’t want interruptions with traffic and sadly, that did on Saturday,” he noted, saying that Sunday’s road race was a little better.     

Time Trial results: 1. Phillippe Leroy, 50 minutes. 2. Darel Christopher Jr., 51:20. 3. Mark Stephenson, 54.02. 4. Andrew “Tubes” Thompson, 55:04. 5. Antonio Andrews, 57:00. Gareth Thomas, 57:02. 6. Amory Jervis, 1:01. 7. Clifton “Tito” Forbes, 1:03. 8. Johnathan JonBaptiste, 1:04. 9. Akeem Richards, 1:07. 10. Calvin Smith, 1:10.