BCU chidedTop cyclist Darren Matthews (right) and father David admiring one of Darren’s trophies. (Picture by Sharon Harding.)
By Justin Marville | Sat, October 27, 2012 - 12:05 AM
Barbados’ top cyclist doesn’t have a similarly high regard for his sport’s administration.
Add Darren Matthews to the growing list of riders disenchanted with what is being described as the Barbados Cycling Union’s (BCU) shortcomings following the country’s overall poor showing at yet another Caribbean Elite Road Race Championship.
The 21-year-old said he was disappointed with the BCU’s disorganization after reasoning that the body’s failure to prepare the rest of the team cost him a podium finish.
“The guys weren’t fit for the race and it isn’t their fault because if you’re sending guys to a race you can’t let them know two weeks before the race,” said Matthews, who was nipped at the line for third place.
“[So], for the last two laps or 60 kilometres of the race, I was riding alone while Guadeloupe had about five or six riders. At the end of the race I had to be doing all the work by myself, so you have me against ten guys.
“I had to bring back a [breakaway] and then the minute I chased down this break, there was another that was about four minutes ahead and I had to chase that down on my own.
“Obviously, that took its toll on my legs later in the race, so in the last 200 metres my legs just cramped up,” he said.
It was the unfortunate end to a string of podium finishes for Matthews, who has been in peak form over the last two months while winning road races in Colombia, Canada and Tobago.
But the other three team members – Jason Perryman, Jamol Eastmond and Ross Callender – didn’t see as much action during that span, and neither were they afforded training sessions ahead of the meet.
Perryman ended the race in 11th while Eastmond and Callender dropped out with mechanical failures.
Matthews further contended that he didn’t even know he was selected for the squad until ten days before the actual event.
“Ahead of Antigua, no one called me, no one contacted me, no one emailed me,” he disclosed.
“I just had a basic idea as the best road rider in Barbados obviously I would be on the team, but I still needed confirmation that Barbados would be even sending a team.”
However, Matthews said the lack of contact with the BCU was nothing new and he charged that the association failed to recognize his achievements this year.
The gifted young cyclist won Barbados’ first ever endurance medal in March when he copped bronze at the Pan American Cycling Championships in Argentina before he went on to record victories in Miami, Colombia and Trinidad with professional squad Team Cocos.
Matthews capped his spectacular season with victories in the Tour of Tobago and the Tobago Cycling Classic to go along with a second-place finish in the Guyana Ride For Life event.
They were just three of at least nine podium finishes for the country’s undisputed top road rider.
“We believe that what he has done on the international front for cycling has not been recognized by the Barbados Cycling Union,” said Matthews’ father David.
“He’s kind of disappointed with the BCU and he doesn’t have anything against the BCU or never had any issues with them, but they aren’t doing anything really to develop local cyclists.
“They’re not contacting the media with these results, and whatever stories come out is because the media either contact us or we go to them,” he added.
Matthews is currently at home preparing for next season, seeking sponsorship and looking for a new cycling team after enjoying huge success in his first season with the Miami-based Team Cocos.
Long-serving BCU president Keith Yearwood declined to comment.
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