One Week until the Inaugural Jamaica International Cycling Classic

With only a week left to the starting whistle, the launch of the inaugural three-day Jamaica International Cycling Classic took place on March 24, at the Toyota Jamaica showroom in Kingston. The launch event was well attended and included partners, federation representatives and cycling enthusiasts.

This historical event will place Jamaica on the map for a number of reasons, which event organizer, Coach Carlton Simmonds of Simmonds High Velocity Cycling Club, explained in his remarks. As part of an effort to build sports tourism in the country, the event has competitors coming from the Cayman Islands, Cuba, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States. With more than 150 cyclists registered, this inaugural event is already achieving participation numbers close to those of the most globally recognized cycling races, like the Tour de France and the Amstel Gold Race.

Simmonds outlined that the race will also help local cyclists on a number of fronts. Currently most races in Jamaica are single day events with limited foreign entrants.  A multi day (193 mile) race that includes a large international contingent will “test the mettle” of the Jamaican athletes and better prepare them for future competitive events. Which is not to say that the foreign entrants will not feel the pressure from the local competitors as well.  Furthermore, this event will help bolster Jamaica’s reputation as a destination for sports tourism.

Also speaking at the launch was Donna-Kaye Sharpe, Secretary of the Jamaican Cycling Federation who said, “I am overjoyed that the sport is finally awaking from its slumber, with world-class competition back on the island. This event will have a far-reaching impact on national cycling. The sport has been on a low for some time, and to have an international event here is super.”

Sharpe continued to explain that one of the ambitions for the Federation and the event is to have it officially sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI, the world governing body), as a points qualifying event. In this vein, the of Pan-American Cycling Confederation President, José Manuel Peláez Rodriguez, and the President of the Caribbean Cycling Confederation, Trevor Bailey will be in attendance and will audit the race organisation against their standard.

If approved, Jamaican and Caribbean cyclists will be able to earn qualifying points for international races in Jamaica through this event. At present, in order to earn points, cyclists have to compete in events overseas to qualify for international races like the Pan American Games, British Commonwealth Games and, of course, the Olympic Games. Conversely, foreign cyclists will have the Jamaican competition on their race calendar, making it a win-win for Jamaican cycling.

The proceedings were hosted by Donald Oliver, Senior Producer at SportsMax and other speakers included partners Reshima Kelly, Brand Marketing Manager at Digicel; Tom Connor, Managing Director at Toyota Jamaica, and Ransford Rickets, Head of Channels and Content Acquisition at SportsMax. Each spoke with fondness on their memories of cycling, as well as how an event of this calibre benefits Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

The event committee, partners, sponsors, and stakeholders are all looking forward to the race, and the development of cycling in general, as well as distributing the US$12,000 prize fund to the winners. The Jamaica International Cycling Classic takes place in in Montego Bay, Jamaica from April 1-3, 2022, and is open to cyclists and spectators alike; and for those who cannot attend in person, they can check out all the coverage on SportsMax.

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