An intriguing men’s road race had provided just over two hours worth of cat-and-mouse racing with Saaremaa looking to set up the finish for their star Mihkel Raim while Guernsey were covering the moves when they came, looking primarily to set Sam Culverwell up for his second gold of the week.
However, by the time they embarked on their 10th and final lap, a large lead bunch of 19 riders was back together and it was anyone’s guess who would prevail.
When they reappeared 12 minutes later, there was initial Sarnian disappointment as Culverwell had dropped off the back of the pack. As he came past a couple of seconds back, he shouted that he was stuck in top gear and his hopes had gone.
But Guernsey still had Jack English and James Roe in the sprint and as they emerged coming back up the hill to the tight finish, English was looking strong and in definite medal contention.
Within 100 yards or so of the line, though, another rider went for a gap up his inside that wasn’t there, collided with the barrier, which in turn then brought down the unlucky English.
Raim went on to victory with the Isle of Man’s Nathan Draper second and another Saaremaa rider, Steven Kaif, in third.
‘Jack was up for a medal and felt great,’ said Guernsey team manager Gary Wallbridge, referring to the final sprint.
‘I don’t know what happened with that crash. Looking at the photographs I think someone trying to sneak up between him and the barrier and there wasn’t enough room.’
Roe was the top Guernsey finisher in eighth, while Culverwell made the line in 15th and English picked himself up to register 17th place.
On Culverwell’s mechanical issue, Wallbridge revealed: ‘They are electronic gears and he has had that happen once in a local race where the gear just stopped in one gear and that was the top gear.’
Wallbridge also reported that Raim had praised Culverwell after the race.
‘The winner, who is a very good professional rider with the Israeli cycling academy and you’ll see him on TV a lot, said “he’s [Sam Culverwell] is a very very good rider but he shouldn’t try and win it all by himself”.
‘Their tactic was to send a rider down the road, protect him, because then someone has to chase and it was Sam. Send another rider down the road and he’s after him as well, so he did too much work in that race.
‘That may not have impacted the finish if he’d got to the finish, but his style of racing is very aggressive, that’s the way he is.’
There was more success for the Guernsey women’s squad, who completed their week with a hard-earned bronze medal in their earlier race over seven laps.
‘We had to go through plan A, B and C before we settled on plan D to get the bronze,’ said team member Karina Bowie.
‘We had a Guernsey rider in the lead pack and unfortunately she dropped down so we then tried to chase back on again, which wasn’t going to work.
‘On the front group there were two Isle of Man riders and two Jersey but no Guernsey so we knew it was going to come down to team bronze, but we had another team – the Faroes – we had to try and work between us to drop the Faroe girls, which we managed to do.
‘Jamie-Lee [Wright] on the last climb managed to sprint up that and take Hannah [Brehaut], myself and Dani [Hanley]. We then slotted in between the Faroes to slow them down, got them off the back of the pack to catch the other two Guernsey girls up to take bronze.
‘That was plan D. We thought that one up on lap five.’
Bowie added that another medal was an excellent end to a great week for the team.
‘We’ve ridden really well together as a team.
‘Both the Isle of Man and Jersey have pro riders, Guernsey doesn’t but we’ve really been able to hold our own, which has been phenomenal. The team have been amazing, we’ve gelled really well together and everybody has really ridden their socks off.’