Sam times it to perfection
SAM CULVERWELL continues to amaze and on Sunday evening he wowed Gibraltar.
The 18-year-old lit up the Bishop Caruana Road last night with a brilliant sprint finish at the end of a calculated and classy ride, excellently supported by his teammates, to strike gold in a typically fast and furious criterium.
Having been part of a five-man break, it was the Sarnian’s attacks that whittled the lead group down to three with three laps to go as he was left with Saaremaa’s Oskar Nisu and Menorca’s Albert Barcelo to fight it out for victory.
As usual, the crowd lining the street approaching the finishing line were all straining their necks to catch a glimpse of who was going to appear in the ascend when it mattered most.
It was Culverwell, powering away from his esteemed rivals to win by a clear margin and crossing the line with a roar of emotion.
‘I was confident but looking at the squads Saaremaa and Faroes had sent I knew it would be a tough race.
‘In the end it worked out perfectly really, not just in terms of me getting the win but the team rode exceptionally well, marked the early moves and then when I got off the front with the select few, they could just marshal the moves behind.
‘I could see that they were watching everything, closing down any breaks, so it was down to me at the front. That in itself brings some pressure, but I was quietly confident that I could bring it off at the end because I could see from the faces of the other guys that they were working really hard but I actually felt really composed.
‘Coming into the sprint I managed to get myself into the perfect position, third wheel because I knew it was cross headwind into the sprint so you didn’t want to open up too early because then they can use your slipstream and come past, so I just managed to time it to perfection and kick passed them at the right moment to take the win – then, just absolute euphoria, I can’t explain it.’
Behind Culverwell there were top 10 finishes for James Roe and Jack English with Mike Serafin and Marc Cox also riding strongly for 22nd and 28th respectively. It amounted to a team silver.
‘The rest of the team rode phenomenally and we really deserve it. It’s brilliant to get a good result to help get that team medal, which means more in the end,’ Culverwell said.
Earlier, the women’s squad had also produced a strong display with Hannah Brehaut coming close to an individual bronze as she placed fourth in the sprint.
She was delighted, though, that she would be standing on the podium with her teammates as they finished third as a collective.
‘We all did really well. All of us were strong.
‘We knew from the start that Jersey and the Isle of Man were going to be tough riders to beat and they pretty much kicked it off from the very beginning. Basically, we were just trying to chase down any attack that went and make sure every one was covered so we had a Guernsey girl up there the whole time.
‘At one point there was just one Jersey rider and one Isle of Man, so I bridged the gap with about six laps to go so all three of us were up there, but unfortunately we got caught and it all came down to the sprint in the end.
‘But all of us have done really well. Considering it’s tough opposition, I’m happy with fourth it being my first Games, and I’m really happy we’ve managed to get a team bronze for all of us to be on the podium.’