Kurt Maraj wins Cycling Championship

Kirk Maraj (L) with a sprint to the finish ahead of Fidel Mangal in Sunday’s National Road Cycling Championship.

Kurt Maraj emerged victorious in last weekend’s 2011 National Road Cycling Championship which he captured in 2009, after Sammy Rudy Joseph won the 2010 edition.
Kurt Maraj used all his experience, fight and determination to fend off a serious challenge from Fidel Mangal in a sprint finish.
The race started near La Place Carenage on Jeremie Street at 8:30am to Micoud and back. As the cyclists entered the Millennium Highway a selection of nine riders led the first climb. The group included the Maraj twins (Kurt and Kirk), defending Champion Sammy Joseph, Winston Williams, Junior Cyclists of the Year Jordan Richard, Fidel Mangal, Elvis Joseph, Rol Auguste and  Damian Mathurin a Junior out of Mon Repos.
On approaching the second tunnel an attack by Mangal split the group taking with him, the Maraj twins, Richard and Williams. Defending champion Sammy Joseph was left behind with the second group comprising of Elvis Joseph, Damian Mathurin and Rol Auguste in pursuit.
Meanwhile the lead group kept a smooth pace line in the Bexon area on their way towards the Barre d’Lisle. At the back Sammy Joseph suffered a puncture while Mathurin, Elvis Joseph and Auguste caught up with the leaders just about one km before the Barre d’Lisle Ccimb. However as the riders started the climb the trio who had just caught up was in reverse as the climb began. Again Mangal led the charge with the little built Richard well suited for climbing showing his prowess by keeping well intact along with the Maraj twins.
It was then Williams who lost contact as the hill got tougher. To make matters worse his chain came off the cogs. He got off his bike quickly rectified the problem, but faced  a difficult task as Richard, Mangal and the Maraj twins kept climbing and distancing the others.
Richard attacked on approaching the top of the Barre d’Lisle with only Mangal responding and the two getting about an eight second lead, which was reduced as the Maraj twins regrouped near the Grand Riviere Secondary School. The four stayed together until the Escap Hill where Mangal rode away solo. He seemed unsure of himself and was reeled in at the turn into Micoud.
On the way back Richard and Mangal led up the climbs with the Maraj twins hanging on.
Mangal rode away on the Dennery bypass hill with the Maraj twins and Richard in pursuit. The three caught up with Fidel at Grand Riviere community as they approached the Barre d’Lisle.
As they started the climb to the Barre d’Lisle, Kirk Maraj lost contact as Kurt Maraj, Mangal and Richard lead the climb. With 200 metres to the top, Mangal got off his seat and rode away with a lead of about 10 seconds. He was out of sight as Kurt Maraj followed Richard down the Barre d’Lisle into Ravine Poison.  Kurt Maraj soon caught up with Richard and raced passed him in Time Trial mode in pursuit of Mangal. Kurt Maraj was able to catch up with Mangal at the Shell Gas Station in Bexon. The two then settled into a smooth ride towards Castries as they prepared what would most likely become a sprint finish.
Meanwhile at the back Kirk Maraj was closing in on Richard who was in third place.
As the riders swung unto Jeremie Street, Kurt Maraj led the sprint and won by half a wheel length to retain the 2011 National Championship road race.
It was a tough and well fought out victory for Kurt Maraj against a younger and less experienced rider in Mangal. Mention must be made of Richard who showed strong climbing ability and will be a cyclist to watch out for in the hills.
Following in order of finish are the results of the 94 km road race: Kurt Maraj, three hours, five minutes and 36 seconds; Fidel Mangal, same time, Kirk Maraj, 3:05.41; Jordan Richard, 3:06.09; Winston Williams, 3:10.40; Elvis Joseph,3:32.48; Rol Auguste; 3:38.27; Damian Mathurin, 3:46.38; Fidel Esnard, 3:58.19.

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