Smit dominates VG course in mountain bike race


Virgin Gorda Grinder Mountain Bike Race 2014. Photo: BVI Mountain Bike Club

Virgin Gorda Grinder Mountain Bike Race 2014. Photo: BVI Mountain Bike Club

In hot and extremely tough conditions for cycling, Justin Smit, current rankings leader, won the annual Virgin Gorda Grinder Mountain Bike Race held last Sunday in a preview of the Tour de Tortola at the end of the month.

At about 7:20 am, the riders were ready as they lined up to head up the first incline out of Spanish Town. As the flag dropped, so did the riders’ heads as they powered into the first crank of the pedal of the race, with the prospect of thousands more to come.

Jim Cullimore set the early pace and blistered into the lead, but this was not to last as Smit rolled past with the irrepressible Alistair Abrehart in hot pursuit, followed closely by Iain Walker, Shane Donovan and others.

Further behind were Cullimore, Lauren Blok, Rusty Burns and Mike Masters, still in shouting distance.

The first mile of the race saw the powerful Smit and the determined Abrehart climb away from the pack. It was evident at this stage that once again Smit had his eye on the prize and no one was going to stop him, although the progress of Abrehart suggested a solid challenge.

This was to prove a false dawn; however, as on the early climb from Spanish Town to Savannah Bay, a clear lead had developed with Smit at the head and although Abrehart was chasing, the going was always going to be tough.

Moving into the ascent from Savannah Bay the early leaders were Smit, who had by now developed a big lead with Abrehart chasing and Walker, Potgieter, Virgin Gorda’s own Angel George holding their own just behind with Donovan shadowing.

Then, a surge came from George as he broke away from both Walker and Potgieter and powered up the climb to beat his challengers to the descent in an attempt to gain some clear space and catch Abrehart, who sat in second. This tactic appeared to work as he raced down the hill to the turnoff to Nail Bay, bringing Abrehart into view.

This sight, understandably, urged George to push harder to overtake Abrehart and cruise into second, leaving both Walker, Potgieter and Donovan to join Abrehart for what was to become a momentous slog and scrap for third as the dreaded ascent up to Gorda Peak loomed closer.

As the riders hit the lower levels of the main climb of the day, with over 1,000 feet of relentless grind ahead for 30 minutes, Potgieter, Abrehart and Walker were locked in wheeled combat the fight continued until, as in past races, Abrehart faded to leave Potgieter and Walker to push through and on to Hogs Heaven.

Abrehart was now faced with a life or death struggle with Donovan for the spoils of 5th.

As Hogs Heaven came into view, third place Walker allowed himself to look over his shoulder expecting to see Potgieter on his tail, but was surprised to see he too had gone the way of Abrehart and had now resorted to walking.

The closing stage of the race saw a break from the hills, a cruise through Spanish Town and a welcome respite for tired muscles.

For the third time this season, a dominant Smit took the chequered flag in a super impressive time of 1 hour, 7 seconds. Angel George followed several minutes behind to take second with Walker taking third, Potgieter fourth, Abrehart fifth and Donovan sixth.

Next race is Sunday 17th May, East End Torture.