Top local and international cyclists will feature in 18 races at the Michael Phillips Republic Day Cycling Classic tomorrow around the Nelson Mandela Park (formerly King George V Park), Port-of-Spain, from 2 pm.

Heading the local contingent are endurance riders Varun Maharajh and Jovian Gomez. The pair recently returned from the Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Mexico and will be among the favourites. On Sunday Maharajh won the elite open/invitational category of the Keep Fit Criterium on the Diego Martin Highway. Gomez will be hoping for a medal this time around after finishing fourth on Sunday.

A pair of T&T siblings are also expected to line up tomorrow. Adam and Joshua Alexander will face the starter, while Jude and Marc Codrington will aim to get on the podium.

The main event will close the day’s proceedings at 4.35 pm with a 30-lap event. The first prize in the main event is $1600 and a trophy, while the second and third place finishers will walk away with $800 and $450 respectively. Prior to the main event, riders will battle in categories such as the ladies senior, ladies junior, tinymites, juveniles and Veterans 60 and over.

There will also be races in memory of the late Roger Smart and Clinton Grant, who both served T&T cycling for many years.

At a media conference yesterday at Flair restaurant, Ariapita Avenue, Port-of-Spain, former national cyclist Michael Phillips and event coordinator, reflected on his journey over the years as a cycling promoter. Phillips started his company Phillip Promotions in his grandmother’s home and is now one of the leading promoters of cycling in the country. “When I decided to take this up (promoting cycling), people told me I was wasting my time, I said it was a challenge I wanted to take.” Phillips also owns a bike store called Mike’s Bikes, opposite Flair Restaurant.

Former national cyclist Roger Gibbon and former president of the T&T Olympic Committee Larry Romany lauded Phillips for his efforts in promoting cycling for the past 18 years. Gibbon said: “Competition is critical to the development of the athlete. Sport needs someone like Michael Phillips.” Gibbon told Phillips there would be obstacles along the way but not to give up on promoting the sport.