By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Before going on to win the 65 miles Jason Bally Memorial race on Sunday, Phillipe Leroy joined fellow cyclists in a prayer vigil remembering Bally, a Trinidad born cyclist who was innocently gunned down in Sea Cows Bay in October 1999, on his way home from work. Bally’s case is among several unsolved murders in the territory.
Leroy said it was a great race that started slowly, before he attacked three times. “But Gareth (Thomas) is very strong. I couldn’t put a foot in front of him. He was steady on my wheel,” Leroy noted. “Then Mark (Stephenson) caught Gareth every time because of a big draught and I thought it was too early in the race, but I did it four times—once because I could see their shadow. I shifted gears, I stood up and saw them both standing up and I sat back down, then we shared the work together.”
On the third of four laps, Leroy said he noticed Thomas stretching and knew he was hurting and each of their pull started getting shorter and slower by about 2Km and he knew they were slowing down and he kept his pull the same way, in case he has to work a bit harder if they began draughting. He said they probably expected him to attack on the third lap but he attacked in Pockwood Pond on the third lap and he began distancing himself about 10, 15 feet and kept the momentum going on the climb.
“I kept accelerating and I looked, they sat back down, two minutes later I couldn’t see them anymore, so I said, okay, they gave up,” he pointed out. “But I kept going hard because I knew if they changed their minds, the two of them working together they could catch me. It was a lot of work. It was the first race I decided to race instead of riding. Normally, I wouldn’t attack at the beginning.”
Leroy said he was hoping that Sam Talbot would have been in the race and knew he’d be on a mountain bike, therefore, his race plan was lots of attacking, because on his bike with slick tires, he’d have to put lots of energy in to get the same speed.
“Maybe I thought I could get him because it’s not much fun to get beat on a road bike against a mountain bike,” he said. “I’d done it to people but I don’t want it done to me,” he added with laughter.
Leroy said he was also worried about Stephenson who took some of his King of the Mountain titles on Beef Island, by 15 seconds. “I was going hard and he’s getting a lot stronger, so I was watching him as well.”
Thomas described the race as hot, rough and hot. “Phillipe’s a monster,” Thomas said. “That’s about it.”
Stephenson shared Thomas’ sentiments. “I was monstrous,” he said. “105 Km, that’s a long race.”
Von “Vony” Alphonso won the shorter two laps race in 1 hour 38 minutes and 32 seconds. He said mentally he wasn’t into the race as his mind was on his friend in the boat accident, as
Roger Phillip finished second in 1:38.38 in his debut race.
“Without him this morning, I don’t know where I would have been,” Alphonso said of Phillip. “But, the race was a nice race. I wish it wasn’t the last one of the season. I love the turnout, the camaraderie was good. All in all, bike is life. I just wish the motoring community would respect us a little more on the roads. They see us and they pretend they ain’t see us. We got cut off twice and had to come to a dead stop, but I owe my win to Captain Ron.”
Phillip, in his first race, said he started riding in the morning about a year ago and called his support an underground team.
“This was my first race and I’m happy to be here, came out to see what I could do and I’m surprised I was up there,” he said. “We have 14 guys here and I came second place. So I think I did good. I haven’t ridden for two weeks. Usually ride three days a week but for the last two weeks I’ve been working so I couldn’t ride, so I didn’t get to prepare myself for the race, so I just came out this morning, decided to see what I get and I’m surprised with the performance.”