Orano Andrews returns to win Tour de Tortola


Orano Andrews. Photo: Broadsword Communications

Orano Andrews. Photo: Broadsword Communications

Long, grueling, energy sapping, soul destroying and painful, were just some of the adjectives used to describe the British Virgin Islands Mountain Bike Club’s Tour de Tortola on Sunday May 31, 2015.

The race has gained the reputation as a serious challenge for the seasoned Mountain Biker, and this year’s race was no exception as it pushed each and every athlete to the limit and back. From multiple punctures, to vomiting from overexertion, to debilitating muscle cramps, to sheer exhaustion, to crashes.

Surprise appearances
Despite the challenges, some 17 riders proved willing to put themselves through what most have trouble even contemplating. Some of the sport’s “Big Guns” made surprise appearances, including Commonwealth cycling hero Orano Andrews who came back after missing the 2014 race, having won in 2013. There was also a face the Mountain Bike circuit had not seen for time, the VI’s top Ironman tri-athlete Richard Morgan. Road racing cyclist, Barry Jones from the Cayman Islands also made a surprise appearance.

The Course
This race is not only a test of endurance, but one of tactical savvy as the course consists of a total circuit of 36.85 miles and a total of 3,300 feet of climbing. “Go out too fast and you face the real prospect of burning out on the long climbs later in the race,” commented Dave Pettigrew.

The first half of the race is the ‘easiest’ section as riders headed out from the airport, along the coast road to Road Town, and onto West End, encouraging riders to put the pedal to the metal in an attempt to break away from the pack. And it was Morgan who broke early and fast, daring the pack to follow and challenge.

Initially, the riders held back and then the unmistakable form of Andrews, galvanised by Morgan’s taunts, flashed past in chase with Cayman rider Barry Jones close on his heels. Past East End the lead peloton flew and at Brandywine Bay, Andrews seized the opportunity and accelerated away from the rest, leaving road racing specialist, Barry Jones in second and having to find his way around the course solo.

At Steel Point, the flat riding vanishes and the real work begins and as previous racers will attest, whoever claims Windy Hill first will win the race. The King of the Mountain title easily went to Andrews who would sail to the finish unchallenged.

Despite making a few detours and coming off the bike, Jones would showcase his exceptional racing skills and secure second. The endurance of Ironman athlete Morgan began to pay off as he would capitalise on the less fit to earn the final podium position.

“All riders managed to finish and by that account all were deemed winners. Notably, as a group, the overall time to complete the race was fastest in years, a testament to perseverance of our little club. While one year older, we are no means slower,” commented Pettigrew.

1. Orano Andrews, 2 hours and 40 minutes; 2. Barry Jones, 2:52; 3. Richard Morgan, 3:08; 4. Carolina Pettigrew, 3:17; 5. Statius Taliman, 3:18; 6. Laurens Blok, 3:22; 7. Ian Walker, 3:31; 8. John Ayers, 3:40; 9. Aaron Gardner, 3:42; 10. Dave Pettigrew, 3:43; 11. Jim Cullimore, 3:47; 12. Liam Blok, 4:08; 13. Shane Donovan, 4:13; 14. Rusty Burns, 4:28; 15. Mike Masters, 4:43

Junior Division: John Cullimore, 1:31.