BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 3, 2017–On Sunday, April 2, the 18th Annual Junior Cross Country Classic, sponsored by Belize Electricity Limited was held. The race started in the Cayo District in front of the Succotz Ferry, and travelled all the way to Belize City, to conclude in front of BEL on the Philip Goldson Highway, for a total of 74 miles. Thirty-nine cyclists were at the start line, nine of them youth riders (under the age of 16), and the other thirty were junior riders (between the ages of 16 and 18). Unlike all the races throughout the year, this race does not give cash prizes. These young men are rewarded in kind: bike parts and accessories, vitamins and supplements, and most importantly, educational awards – school supplies, scholarships, etc.
Along the race route, there were thirteen station prizes. Most of the winners of these prizes came from the guys who were in a nine-man breakaway for most of the day – Wilhelm Coye and Shawn Armstrong of Big Shep; Shaun Codd riding unattached; Derrick Chavarria (youth) of Chavarria Cycling; Gian Lino of Cabral/Marin; Shaquire Tillett of Smart; and Peter Jones, along with brothers Jyven (youth) and Jyron Gonzalez of Imani’s. The first station prize was given at the BEL San Ignacio Substation – 2 tires and a bottle of Cytomax, sponsored by BEL, which was won by Jyven Gonzalez. Peter Jones won the second prize at Loma Luz Boulevard – 1 Bib cycling shorts, sponsored by BEL. 1 Shimano cleat, sponsored by BEL, was given at Running W, which was won by Gian Lino. Peter Jones won his second prize at Go Slow Hill – 1 bottom bracket, sponsored again by BEL. At the BEL Camalote Substation, 2 tires and a Muscle Milk were won by Jyvon Gonzalez. Garbutt’s Puma Service Station in Roaring Creek gave prizes to the first and second persons to pass there; Shaun Codd won the first prize, which was $150.00 fuel, while Gian Lino won the second, which was $75.00 fuel. Shaun Codd also won a $25.00 gift certificate from Stationery House at the Belmopan Cut-off. At St. Matthew’s Gov’t School, Wilhelm Coye won his first and only station prize, $25.00 gift certificate from Stationery House. Derrick Chavarria won a pair of pedals and a bottle of vitamins at the BEL La Democracia Substation. Prize number ten was won by Jyven Gonzalez at Rockville – $25.00 gift certificate from The Stationery House. Shaun Codd won prizes eleven and twelve, one bottle of Cytomax at Hattieville Police Station; and 2 tires, a bottle of Cytomax, and a bottle of vitamins at BEL 8-miles Gas Turbine. The final station prize was won by Gian Lino at Chetumal Bridge – $25.00 gift certificate from The Stationery House.
Along the way, the nine-man break turned into six; three guys were dropped – Jyron Gonzalez, Shawn Armstrong and Shaquire Tillett. Somewhere after Hattieville, three guys came across to the leading group; these guys were also the captains of their respective teams – Nashen Ysaguirre of Cabral/Marin, Tevin Chaplin of Imani’s, and Joshua Fuller of Smart. So, the group was nine again – Jyven, Wilhelm, Shaun, Derrick, Gian, Peter, Nashen, Tevin and Joshua.
After three hours fifty-seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds (03:57:39), the lone figure of Gian Lino from the Cabral/Marin Cycling Team crossed the line with both hands raised high in the air, finishing three minutes and twenty-five seconds ahead of the eight-man chase man group. Lino rode a very smart race, putting himself in the breakaway, and conserving until he was sure he could make a run for it. Notice, Lino won no station prizes until he was by himself. He did very minimal work in the breakaway, and attacked at different intervals in the race to test the legs of his opponents.
The remaining eight came to the line for the sprint finish of the day. The favourite to win the sprint was definitely Nashen, as he is known to be a very fast cat. In cycling however, always expect the unexpected. The man with the most legs at the end of the 74-mile race was no other than Wilhelm Coye from the Big Shep Cycling Team, winning the sprint and taking second place overall, forcing Nashen Ysaguirre to settle for third place. Tevin Chaplin of Imani’s was fourth, and Joshua Fuller, of Smart rounded out the top five, in the Junior category.
In the Youth category, Jyven Gonzalez of Imani’s took top honours, and he was also 7th overall. Derrick Chavarria of Chavarria Cycling was 2nd in this category and 8th overall. Both Jyven and Derrick finished with the first chase group. Joseph Tillett of Cabral/Marin was 3rd Youth and 19th overall, finishing twenty-five minutes behind 1st and 2nd place in the Youth category. And the youngest rider of the day, 11-year old Delton Rojas of the Police Team from Corozal, finished 20th overall, 27 minutes and 23 seconds behind the leader. He was also 4th place in the Youth category.
Important to note, of the 39 cyclists who started the race, 22 finished within the time limit (30 minutes after the first-place finisher), and one was disqualified for finishing outside of the time limit. This means that 16 cyclists did not finish the race.