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Trinidad & Tobago – Day Ten, Dwight Yorke Stadium Criterium


We race at the Dwight Yorke Stadium today. “Abraham takes on the world,” said the headline in Thursday’s paper; USA, Canada, Jamaica, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Switzerland – that’s not a bad cross section. But did he beat the world here in Trinidad & Tobago? All will be revealed.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Today’s sports pages.

Stop playin’ de ass hole an’ listen!‘ Dem Trini shop manager girls don’t put up with no nonsense from their staff.

Shopping malls are a big thing here, maybe because they have the best air conditioning. If you’re in there for a while you forget about what awaits outside; it’s like walking into a casting plant – bang!

We missed the school gig, the driver got lost and we eventually met the riders on their way back from the school; it’s Tobago, – ‘so no point in stressin’, man!’

It’s race day, today – a 1.1 kilometres per lap criterium around the Dwight Yorke Stadium.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
The Dwight Yorke Stadium.

Being a football Phillistine, I didn’t know much about Mr. Yorke but the guide tells me; ‘Tobago-born football star and leading striker for UK teams like Manchester United and Aston Villa”.

He was an integral part of Trinidad & Tobago’s unsuccessful World Cup campaign in 1989.

Years later, he captained T & T to an impressive debut at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where the islands made history as the smallest country ever to qualify.’

And apparently now he’s coaching in Australia, but his folks still live here and he has a house on the island.

The guys rode out to the venue; the stadium sits in a sun baked valley, outside of Tobago’s capital, Scarborough; the kids train and dream of Man U. whilst just a few yards away from the stadium, the cows nibble at the dry grass.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Emile before the race.
Dwight Yorke Stadium
‘Say Hi to Shona’ shouts Pete.

As is the Caribbean norm, the music was pumping, albeit the buzz was lower key than Savannah because of the location – ‘in the sticks’ rather than in the middle of town.

School kids had been bussed out, and again it was Giddeon Massie who pulled the crowd.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Giddeon and his fans.

First up was the one lap BMX – it was the guy with the skinny tyres who was quickest.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
BMX on skinnies, an easy, cheap and very cool way to let the kids try other aspects of the sport.

Then the two lapper for locals – a subdued affair.

Start time was around 5:00 pm and it was still baking hot.

In this heat, you have to keep drinking or you’ll dehydrate; I tried an ‘Ultra Malt’ – a fizzy malty brew which is nice if it’s ice cold, but I wouldn’t want to try it luke warm.

With $500 on the line for the end of lap one, it was a rapid start.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Ronald Dickie covers them races ‘real close’.

The course reminded me of one of those 70’s English pro criterium courses – up and down a dual carriageway with one 180 degree turn and the other around a technical intersection.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Dwight Yorke Stadium
Dwight Yorke Stadium
Emile grabs his drink.
Dwight Yorke Stadium

No one was enjoying it, especially Carola, who went out of the back pretty early after hanging on well into the second half of the race at the Savannah.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Game over for Carola.

Big local, Adam Alexander who placed third on the Savannah was out early, too – his big frame unsuited to the constant braking and accelerating.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Adam Alexander calls it quits early on too.

Five went clear early – Andreas Muller (Austria), Sebastian Donadio (Argentina), Emile Abraham (Tobago), Adam Chuss (Canada) and the surprising Dan Harm (USA), burning a lot of watts getting his tall frame back up to speed after every turn.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Dan Harm likes the tracks better than the roads.

It was obvious that it was the move of the day; Adam’s team mate, Jean-Michel Lachance tried to bridge but ended up frying in no man’s land.

Leif Lampater (Germany) didn’t fry, he sliced across to the break cleanly – however, I did hear one of the break members holler to the others; ‘OK, let’s go!‘ when the German bridged up.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Leif punches across to the break in no time flat.

The six worked sweetly for a lap or two – until the hyper active Lampater vamoosed to Hoover up the primes.

His girlfriend arrived the day before so he had to impress – not to mention pay for the villa rental.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
The break.

What was left of the peloton was lapped just as Leif was caught – this caused the usual muddle.

Once things settled, Leif went again with nine to go; one of the locals thought it was a good idea to go with him – whether he was a lap down or not.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Erin Hartwell and Pete engage in a little debate.

With five to go, all of the lapped riders were pulled out and still Leif scooped the lap dough up ahead.

Three to go and Emile initiated the chase, Leif had been out front too long and soon succumbed.

Seb took the prime on the bell lap and it all that was left was the big one.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Seb goes prime hunting.

We didn’t see Emile’s move, it came on the chicane – he went through it flat out, the others couldn’t follow and it was the skinny Home Boy with the good dance steps and big smile who flashed through the line, arms high.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
I’ve seen smaller scrums around a Classic winner – TV, radio, papers, family, fans.
Dwight Yorke Stadium
Tonight’s podium.

We ‘limed’ (that’s ‘hang out’ or ‘chill’ to us) with Emile after the race.

I asked Emile his philosophy about how bike racing can fit in with partying ’til late;

“You can stay out late, but you can’t drink too much, one maybe two beers, maximum and you want to keep off your feet, sit down as much as you can.

When you get home you should give yourself a little self-massage and then drink plenty of water before you go to bed – if you do all of that, you’ll have no problems.”

Emile coaches too, he has eight clients and has some strong views on coaches who give clients a schedule too far ahead (I’ve cleaned it up, a little.)

“You can’t do it man, no way!

How do you know how a guy is going to feel tomorrow, never mind in one month?

You have to be emailing, phoning all of the time to see how they feel after the session and what’s happening in their life – one month ahead is just crazy!”

So now we know.

Dwight Yorke Stadium
Scarborough shoreline.

Just before we met up with Emile, we were standing on the shore down at Scarborough, the stars were bright, the Carib was cold and the great, but sadly late, Teddy Prendergast was spinning on the DJ’s deck.

When you get older, you get better at recognising when you’re having the time of your life.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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