Podium Finish for Two Maltese Cyclists in the First Stage of the Tour ta’ Malta 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011, 12:26

Two Maltese cyclists managed to make the podium in the first stage of the Tour ta’ Malta 2011. Young Andrew Griffiths of Greens Cycling Club and veteran Jack Schiavone of Qormi Scott Cycling Club finished second and third respectively in the Elite and Masters category. Etienne Bonello (Greens CC) was not very far behind in the Elite category, where he finished in fourth place to just miss the podium.
On a very hot but windy morning, the first stage consisted of a 25 Km individual time trial on the Salina/Bahar ic-Caghaq Coast Road. The female cyclists were the first off, followed by the Masters category and finally the Elite category. Ladies defending champion Iona Sewell (Squadra Donne UK Team) started as favourite in the female category, but she could only manage third place in 42’34”. The overall winner was Anna Harkowska of the German Charlottenburg Berlin team, who stopped the clock on 41’47”, closely followed by the Italian Michela Gorini of GS Fausto Coppi Fermignano who clocked 42’01”.
The newly-introduced Masters category for over 40 cyclists proved to be the most popular. Qormi Scott cyclist Jack Schiavone was among the first cyclists on the road as he made an all-out effort to record an excellent timing, which in fact he did by clocking 38’18”. However, he had to settle for third place, as both Briton Kevin Byers of Fiestien Team UK and Sicilian Salvatore Casi of ASD Omina Ragusa bettered his time. Byers took second place in 38”06, while Casi took first place by clocking an impressive 36’55”.
In the Elite category all Maltese eyes were on Etienne Bonello of the Greens CC, who showed speed and determination to record 37’00”. But it was his younger team mate Andrew Griffiths who eclipsed him with an excellent timing of 34’50” to finish in second place. Bonello could only make it to fourth place, as he was overtaken by Briton Matthew Higgins of Virgin Active UK, who placed third in 36’13”. But the main plaudits were reserved for Antonio Guccione of Ballatore Team who took the first red jersey of the Tour by blasting his way through the circuit in 32’13”.
At the end of the stage, Messrs Andrew Botha and Dan Staples from Betfair, the official sponsors of the Tour, presented medals and the red jersey to the overall winners in each category. They were assisted by Miss Tour ta’ Malta, Tiziana Cutajar, and by the Chairman of the Organising Committee, John Zammit.
The Tour ta’ Malta resumes on Friday morning when the second stage will be held at the San Martin Circuit. This stage will consist of a 100 Km road race for the Elite category, while the Masters and Females will cover 60 Km.

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