Silver joy for cycle team

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Sam Firby, David Jardine and Chris Spence were Jersey’s three counters in a superb effort, backed up well by Danny Le Marquand and Alistair Cann.

They all received medals for their efforts around the 27.5-mile course in the south-west of the island.Andrew Roche won the individual gold, in a blistering 1 hr 45 sec, for the fourth successive time and inspired the Isle of Man to team gold, while Guernsey’s team picked up the bronze.That the morning was eventful came as a bit of a surprise, as the time-trial only rarely produces drama; it is essentially about one rider tackling a course at as high a constant speed that he or she can manage.Unfortunately for the Guernsey authorities, and their own cyclist Terry Wright – the island’s prison governor – in particular, what will live in the memory were the problems caused by vehicles on the course.

Wright was the most unfortunate, slamming into the back of Island FM’s media car just 70 yards from the finish line, but there were several more incidents of riders being put at risk, or being forced to slow down.Ben Crook-Hanna from Prince Edward Island had his Games chances wrecked within 80 yards of the start when he was blocked by oncoming traffic and an ambulance.

Both Wright and the Canadian, to their great credit, finished the course.

Jersey’s Le Marquand was also baulked while he was out on the Eree Bay coast road.It was a flat course, but the unexpected heat and a tough climb up Pleinmont Hill three miles from the end made it testing for all.

The bikes and equipment might well cost thousands of pounds – around £5,000 for the top machines – but they still need an extremely fit human pumping the pedals.Said Jersey team manager Tony Richomme: ‘I’ve got to be happy with that result.

All the lads performed well and silver is a just reward for their efforts.’Richomme also praised the efforts of the Jersey ladies, who finished out of the medals in a high-class field:’They did well, but the Bermuda and Isle of Wight teams are in a different class – Bermuda prepared for this by racing for six weeks in the UK.’The ladies produced consistent times, with former Commonwealth Games rider Sue Munns the fastest over the 23.6-mile course in 1 hr 6 min 31 sec for eighth spot.

Nikki Faux was just 14 seconds adrift in ninth place, with Ruth Bonney a further 37 sec down in tenth.Bonney is looking forward to her ‘moment of truth’ in Wednesday’s road race and any lack of medals won’t be down to a lack of effort from any of this team.The Sarnians also had something to shout about in the men’s individual event, with Paul Brehaut taking silver behind the brilliant Roche in a time of 1.03.12.

Elliot Baxter of the Isle of Man took bronze in 1.03.35.Hosts Guernsey, safety problems apart, enjoyed a wonderful start to the Games, with reigning champion Ann Bowditch (32) smashing her own record by around two minutes to regain the ladies’ title – but it was so close to a golden start for ‘new’ island Bermuda.

Indeed, the announced finishing times of Bowditch and Bermuda’s Lynn Patchett (36) were identical, 1 hr 15 seconds.

The gold went to Bowditch by a hundreth of a second.Patchett, who took up cycling only a year ago, is a top-class marathon runner (top 15 finish in the Boston event) and will be tackling the world decathlon championships later this year.

Bermuda’s Julia Hawley won the bronze in 1.00.37.Firby was the fastest Jersey finisher in 1.04.15, followed by Jardine (1.04.32), Spence (1.04.35), Le Marquand (1.04.43) and Cann (1.08.51).

The combined time of the first three was 3.13.22, compared to the 3.14.41 of Guernsey’s Brehaut, Aaron Bailey, Tony Bleasdale, Danny Guillemette and the unfortunate Wright.A bronze medal might help heal Wright’s wounds (he was taken to hospital for treatment later), but one wouldn’t bet on it.Stuart Falla, the Guernsey Games organiser, is believed to have set the ball in motion to ensure that safety is improved for the rest of the cycling events, although an official statement released by the Organising Committee states: ‘Cycling is a sport where accidents can happen and the cycling organisers of Guernsey 2003 took every reasonable safety precaution.

Guernsey police have confirmed that the road was open and the driver of the vehicle was not to blame in any way.

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