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Colombian back on the circuit

Justin Marville

Colombian back on the circuit

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Darren Matthews is getting even more help from Colombia.
Not that he really needs it.
The return of Matthews’ training partner Jaime Ramirez will be the major storyline heading into today’s circuit race, as the former world junior champ takes to the Market Hill course for the season’s sixth road race, starting at Locust Hall at 2:30 p.m.
It’s the first time in almost ten months the talented Colombian is set to appear in a Barbadian circuit event since featuring in last June’s fateful National Championships.
Back then, Ramirez helped Matthews to a first ever senior road race title, getting his young sidekick back into the peloton after a flat tyre and bike change dropped the latter some two minutes off the pace. And this was following the event’s much-publicized protest, which saw some 21 riders fail to move off the starting line.
Since that breakthrough win, Matthews has taken the sport by storm, using his much valued Colombian training stint to win a historic Pan American Championships bronze to go along with other overseas accomplishments.
But Ramirez won’t be looking for mere team glory under CGI G4S Swift colours, having already proven a two-time winner on Bajan soil.
Though not a victor in his season debut two weeks ago, Matthews still starts as the pre-race favourite alongside Ramirez.
And they should get a serious challenge from Jamol Eastmond – who won the season’s first two races – and one-time dominant junior Russell Elcock, a rider with four successive runner-up finishes to open the year.
Following a disastrous start to the season, former two-time road race king Simon Clarke has rounded into some form following a victory and a second-place showing, but he may be overlooked as a threat due to the course’s undulating nature.
The climbs should pose no such threat for the evergreen Greg Downie, though, and he will be considered extremely dangerous after winning the last road race two weeks ago at the age of 59.
The course also suits Mario Forde’s superior climbing skills but it’s left to see if he has the mental strength to rebound from what appears to be continual misfortune this year, having already sat out the last circuit race.
Despite his lack of form, Ross Callender will provide the star-studded senior field with some depth after showing encouraging flashes last time out.
In the women’s category, Esther Miller-Rosemond is finally expected to see some competition with the anticipated arrival of Colombian Carolina Gomez.
The seniors and juniors are slated to ride 12 laps of the 5.6 kilometre course while the masters will complete ten laps. The juveniles and women are set to go six each.