Tour de Falmouth a success, say organisers
Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
If Sunday's Tour de Falmouth cycle race was anything to go by, then the traditional 'big' sports, football and domino, could soon be playing second-fiddle to cycling in Trelawny.
Despite persistent rains in western Jamaica, the event attracted more than 40 competitors, who generated excitement along the 3.3 mile course, which encompassed areas such as the world famous Water Square, near the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier; and the town's main thoroughfares and the highway leading just outside the town.
Michael Dawkins and Steven Ventura, two members of the event's organising team, were elated with the first staging of the Tour de Falmouth, which was conceptualised with a view to cashing in on the lucrative multibillion-dollar sports tourism market as well as promoting the growth and development of the sport locally.
"We chose Falmouth because of its location as a tourist town and the appeal it certainly has internationally," said Dawkins, second vice-president of the Jamaica Cycling Federation (JCF). "The plan is also to rediscover cycling as a competitive sport. As you are already aware, many people are now riding on a recreational basis."
Interestingly, cycling is the only event outside of track and field in which Jamaica has won an Olympic Games medal. In 1980, David Weller claimed a historic bronze in the 1,000 metre time-trial at Moscow Olympic Games.
"We want to get locals and tourists as a part of the experience as we seek to grows the sport. Our efforts could well produce the next David Weller," said Dawkins.
In the event, which saw riders being divided into five categories, elite or professionals, juniors, female, masters, and super masters, Oshane Williams, of Galiz Cycling Club, emerged the top performer, winning the Elite title ahead of Peter Thompson and Tyler Hill, who took second and third places, respectively.
"It was a lovely course, but it was tough because of the wind and rain, but I enjoyed it just the same," said Williams, who flew in from overseas to participate in the event.
Denzil Stewart won the Elite 2 race with Russell Small and Donald Hall, taking second and third; while the Netherlands native Hans Heusinkveld won section three, with local rider Clevyan Williams and Jermaine Brissett taking second and third.
Obviously pleased with his organisational effort, Ventura said the race, which he hopes will be established as a calendar event, has awesome potential.
"Today was a success. We had hoped for more competitors, but we had to settle for what he had, but that aside, I thought it was spectacular, even in the rain. It was clear the riders and their support crews had a great time," said Ventura.