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Svensson wins tough stage at Tobago Classic

By Chris Morvan Thursday, October 3 2013

click on pic to zoom in

Tobago’s roads and weather sorted out the men from the boys in the second race of the International Cycling Classic yesterday. Heavy overnight rain had washed debris onto the roads in several parts of the circuit, which began at the picnic area by the beach at Black Rock to Mount Irvine, Les Coteaux and Arnos Vale.

With less than a lap completed, the race was in danger of degenerating into a farce, as a dozen competitors trailed back to the start, shaking their heads and talking of mud, gravel and holes in the road, and deciding to forfeit the chance of points for fear of damaging themselves or their bikes.

Event organiser, Jeff Charles, was unconcerned, dismissing the drop-outs as sprinters who didn’t fancy the hills and were using the conditions as an excuse.

“Challenging conditions, but that’s part of the deal,” he announced, shortly before reducing the race from four laps to three.

The racers who stuck with it certainly earned their day off tomorrow.

The Swede, Johan Svensson, blasted out of a tight quartet at the finish to claim an unexpected victory on his 34th birthday.

“The descents were dangerous,” he conceded, “with mud and gravel. But after the first lap you knew what to expect. I just hung in there and on the last climb I thought ‘to hell with it’ and really went for it. On the final sprint, I knew the other guys were struggling, and I’ve got a good kick.”

Right there on Svensson’s shoulder as they flashed past the finish line was Daniel Bichlmann of Germany, followed by Jaine Ramirez of Colombia and another German, Jonas Schmeiser.

A close second in the previous day’s race, Schmeiser wears the Division One leader’s jersey.

The competitive element of the event now takes a 24-hour break, during which there will be a meet-the-people parade from Crown Point to Scarborough and back this morning and a rum punch-themed lime at Pigeon Point this afternoon.

Tomorrow morning will see the debut of a long-overdue mountain bike event through the rain forest, starting at Arnos Vale at 8am and finishing there at 10am. Then at 1.30 pm, the road racing resumes with a criterion in Plymouth.

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