By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Phillippe Leroy made his Pan Am Masters Cycling Championships a memorable one last Friday, as he pedaled to a 48 seconds victory in the 20K (12 miles) time trial in Baranquilla, Colombia. Leroy had a winning time of 49 minutes 04.27 seconds over his Colombian challenger, Gerardo Moncada.
“The time trial went very well. I cycled as hard as I could, paced myself very well, my bike computer didn’t work so I was judging by the feeling in my legs making sure I didn’t go too hard,” Leroy, 62 said. “I was very pleased, completely exhausted when I finished. I didn’t think I’d won, because there was such a strong competition and I didn’t have a time trial bike, nor did I bring my disc wheel. And then later on, they announced that I’d won and I just couldn’t believe it, it was incredible. Everyone was celebrating and took pictures with me. Even Colombians were happy for me—lots of people from Brazil and Mexico as well—it was an incredible experience.”
Racing in two groups In the road race that followed on Saturday, Leroy finished 18th in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 15 seconds. He said there were about 35 Columbians in his group and 10 other cyclists from different countries. After his time trial exploits, the Colombians worked as a team to ensure that he wouldn’t win. “So it was very difficult. When one Colombian attacked, the others were telling the rest to slow down, so most of the time it was me who had to counter attack and catch the man that’s left, but that was tiring my legs and it was very hard for me,” Leroy explained. “And when I attacked, before I got to pass the people at the front, they said ‘vamos, vamos, go, go, go.’ They were telling their friends to get going because I was going.”
Leroy said he couldn’t break away and at the end of the first lap, their champion was trying to drop him, because they had a plan. “But I managed to stay with him so he was a bit disappointed,” Leroy said. “And then on the third lap, I didn’t attack because I knew I couldn’t sprint, but with the whole Colombian team chasing me, I couldn’t break away. In the end, I just did as best as I could towards the end of the sprint but in the front group. I did well and had the same time as the first finisher.”
He was 12th in the criterion in 43:20 and said he wasn’t looking forward to it since he had never done one before and besides, it was raining, which made it very dangerous accelerating after taking corners. “I did very well. I surprised myself, was having fun and positioned myself to do better than the day before. I took the corners very well,” he pointed out. “At one point, I was in the breakaway of four people. The Colombians were not working hard as a team this time, they were competing against each other, so it was much more fun.”
The race he noted, came down to a sprint finish which isn’t his strong suit. “I did the best I could,” he said. “I really had fun. In the whole three days, it has been incredible. The people are so nice. Everybody was celebrating—just incredible.”
Since he’s not a sprinter, Leroy said that he didn’t take too many risks in the road race and criterion.
“I wanted to finish in the front group because it looks better for the BVI than getting dropped or pulled out of the race,” he stated. “Sometimes, trying very hard to win, you end up being dropped. But in my case, the only way to win a competitive flat race is to be lucky to break away before the finish.”