Natwest Island Games XVI - Jersey Island Games - a time to shine

Cycling Wrap

There were certainly some memorable moments from cycling at the NatWest Island Games.

Cycling Wrap

The Isle of Man Team displaying why they are first class in the cycling world; topping the cycling medal table at the end of the week, Jersey's Kim Ashton being the local golden girl with a clean sweep of 6 gold medals, not forgetting too the Macphee sisters from the Western Isles, Kerry and Kirsty. The siblings both raced with fearlessness and determination around the mountain bike courses and shared the podium at both the MTB XC and MTB Criterium events.

The venues too provided the perfect backdrop; from the winding green lanes in the East to the long stretches of coastline along Jersey's West coast, the road courses tested the strength, endurance and tactical nous of the riders. Along with some of the hottest temperatures recorded in the host island in recent years, all riders were pushed to their limits and beyond.

It was team effort that helped individual riders to succeed, such as the case in the men's road race. IOM's Nathan Draper put in a silver medal winning performance behind winner Mihkel Raim of Saaremaa and made several attacks within the lead group. This, combined with the skilful cycling from team-mates, gave a further team gold medal for the Manx men.

In the team trial event on the opening day, Torkil Veyhe of the Faroe Islands and Ashton were the gold medal winners by margins of 29 and 11 seconds respectively.

Perhaps some of the biggest crowds of the week were drawn to the mountain bike events both at Jubilee Hill and People's Park. 

The courses were designed and built especially for the Island Games and clearly, the many months of organisation and planning paid off as the circuits provided thrilling races that even those unfamiliar with the sport made the effort to come and watch. Crowds were treated to some outstanding efforts on the tracks; both Kerry Macphee and Rhys Hidrio were hit by technical glitches in their races, having to make pit stops for repairs. But the phenomenal comeback displayed from both of the riders meant that their gold and silver medals were well-earned.

The early morning torrential rain was perhaps a sign of the challenges ahead on a tough 5th day. 

In a day full of drama and disputes, the Town Criterium event saw the collision on the final sprint between the Bermuda and Ynys Mon riders, and an appeal against a time penalty in the Women's race. Fortunately, both riders were treated quickly and the appeal in the women's race was resolved with Jersey taking the individual and team Gold medals.

Moving on from the morning's drama, the Men's Town Criterium race later in the day attracted large crowds and spectators were treated to a fast and fierce competition. The Men's race looked to be a close battle between several teams including Saaremaa, Jersey, Guernsey, Faroe Islands and the IOM. But it was in the final moments of the race that Bermuda's Dominique Mayho who appeared from almost out of nowhere with a surprise attack to just snatch gold away from IOM's Nathan Draper.

Other issues during the week arose around the heavy traffic being a factor in the men's time trial. But others would perhaps argue that it is all part of the challenge of time trialling.

However, the issues of the Town Criterium should not deflect from the overall atmosphere at all of the cycling events. Anyone at the mountain bike or the Town Criterium events will remember the deafening cheers which came in waves around the courses as audiences became hooked on the action happening in front on them. 

Of course, a mention too should go out to the army of volunteers who dedicated their time throughout the week to ensuring that the cycling events ran smoothly and were enjoyed by both competitors and spectators alike.

So what about the legacy of Jersey 2015 for local cycling? Locally, cycling is a popular sport, but the Island Games have helped showcased the high standard of the sport in Jersey and aid development for future cyclists.

There are plans in place to see the mountain bike circuit at Jubilee Hill to continue to be used as a venue for the sport. Also, now it has been seen that staging the mountain bike criterium at People's Park can be done - and that it is popular - it is likely this could be something local cycling clubs could host again. 

Another important part of the legacy is ensuring that enthusiasm for the sport is passed on to the next generation. Having young stars like Guernsey's Megan Dowinton winning bronze at her first Island Games, and proving herself among a field of national champions is a great inspiration for young cyclists.

Members of the Jersey Youth Cycling clubs too helped present medals at the podium ceremonies. Making them all part of the event was a great way of inspiring them about what they might achieve in the future. Maybe we will see some of them in Gotland in 2017!

Words: Laura Symes - Pics: Sue Armes, Tim Sayers, Simon Langlois, Oli Wade & Chloe Rayson


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