Cycling’s criterium was converted into a bruising battle with bicycle body blows yesterday.
The wheel of a bicycle was apparently used as a weapon in a fight between the two young cyclists, bringing the Barbados Cycling Union’s second race of the year on the Fontabelle circuit to a screeching stop.
As a result emerging cyclist Darius Ramsammy was immediately suspended pending a hearing for his part in a fracas with Kyle Gill, who had to seek medical attention for an injury to his mouth.
Another cyclist, who was in the race and saw the incident, which occurred at the entrance of BICO Limited on Harbour Road, told NATIONSPORT that Ramsammy fell after he clipped the back wheel of Gill’s bike.
At the time, the 20-year-old Ramsammy was marginally trailing Gill, who had got up from the saddle of the bicycle to sprint.
The eyewitness said an irate Ramsammy waited until the next lap when Gill came around, and lashed out at him with his bicycle wheel. The braces on Gill’s teeth came off during the melee. The two combatants had to be separated by other riders after they got in a tussle.
Cyclist Kyle Gill speaking to a police officer after getting medical attention. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
Cycling officials instantly stopped the event with 18 of the 30 laps remaining and Russell Elcock holding a comfortable lead after he, along with Dominic Howard, had made an early break.
BCU president Charles Lynch, after announcing that violence won’t be tolerated in the sport, said a meeting of the disciplinary committee would be convened to deal with the matter.
“In the first instance, the rider Darius Ramsammy, who initiated the unfortunate incident, has been notified that he will be suspended pending disciplinary hearing,” Lynch said.
“He will receive a notice within 14 days to appear before a disciplinary committee where a decision will be made on his actions today [yesterday] in the race,” Lynch said.
Lynch said Gill will also be summoned before the disciplinary committee “to present his evidence to exactly what happened in the matter”.
“The Cycling Union, just like with any other sport, does not condone violence. Athletes from time to time will have differences but never resort to violence in the sport and we will not condone anything like that . . . . You have to be a sportsman at the end of the day,” Lynch said.
Lynch called the incident minor and said it shouldn’t be a setback for cycling.
“We won’t let something like this stop cycling in Barbados. It is just an unfortunate incident, not handled the best way. Sometimes, you will have differences but we will certainly progress and go forward and overcome this in a quick way,” Lynch noted.
Police out-riders also took statements from both Ramsammy and Gill.
A contrite Ramsammy, in a separate interview with NATION SPORT, complained that Gill’s actions of suddenly applying brakes, triggered the incident and caused him to fall.
“We were in the race. Obviously, he was in front of me and cycling goes like this. If you are in front and you pull off for a next guy to work to basically hold some of the strain and that guy does not come through, you have two choices – go to the back of the pack or continue riding,” he said.
“There are a couple reasons why you should slam on your brakes. If there is immediate danger in front of you like a car coming towards you, a pothole in front of you or some other reason. You can’t be on a flat, smooth road and grab your brakes and bring your bike to a complete stop,” said Ramsammy.
“I would apologise to him but things go both ways. I realised that I was wrong for actually stopping the race because I felt he threw me down and then smiled before riding off,” noted Ramsammy.
A total of 40 riders participated in yesterday’s event, which, according to Lynch will be rescheduled.
The next BCU criterium is scheduled for March 18 on the Speightstown circuit. (EZS)