BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 4, 2016–2016 is under way, and it started with a bang on Friday, January 1, New Year’s Day, as hundreds of fans lined the road-ways “from the border to the boulevard” to witness the 26th edition of the KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic, most rooting for a Belizean winner. And they were not disappointed, as Belizean riders took the first 4 prizes from among a field of 57 that started the Elite race from the northern border, including 11 foreigners, from the USA, Mexico and Guyana.
Last year’s champion, Mexican Hector Rangel, who rode for the Benny’s Megabytes team in 2015, did not participate this time. By a new rule of the Cycling Association of Belize, foreign riders can no longer ride as part of Belizean teams as in years past.
37 cyclists finished the 96-mile journey, which started at 9:00 a.m. from the Corozal Free Zone, passing through Corozal Town and Orange Walk Town, including all the various villages on the way to Belize City, and ending at the finish line in front of Santos Diaz & Sons on Central American Boulevard.
The Female, Junior & Youth categories of the race started from in front of the Town Hall in Orange Walk Town, the Females taking off at 9:00 a.m., followed by the Juniors & Youth at 9:35 a.m., for the 52-mile journey to the Krem Classic finish line in Belize City.
The Junior race, which was the first to reach the finish, ended in an exciting sprint, when Ernest Bradley/Meighan, who had broken away and was later caught, becoming a part of an 8-man peloton, showed he had inherited some sprinting skills (he is the son of the late legendary Jawmeighan), as he won the final sprint to take the Junior championship. 29 riders had started the race, and 24 finished.
The Female race ended in a sprint between defending champion Alicia Thompson and former champion Kaya Cattouse, and Alicia prevailed again, although the police vehicle obstructed the view of many fans, and may have affected the riders also. 4 of the 5 females who started were able to complete the race. Notably missing from this year’s Classic was 5-time winner Shalini Zabaneh.
Although there was no sprint for the championship in the big Elite Open race, it was just as exciting for fans who were jubilant upon seeing a lone Belizean rider, young Joel Borland come down the Belcan Bridge following the passage of official vehicles and roaring service motorcycles. After his triumphant ride across the finish line, there was a fierce sprint among an upcoming group of about 5 riders, with his Digicell-4G teammate Gregory Lovell winning the sprint for second place, followed by Byron Pope (Benny’s Megabytes) in third, and reigning Cross Country champion Justin Williams (unattached) in fourth place.
The Krem New Year’s Classic, acknowledged as the second biggest annual sporting event in the nation, was blessed with beautiful weather this year, and the top finishers list demonstrates the coming of age of a number of young cyclists, including champion Joel Adan Borland, who are now the cream of the cycling crop in Belize, and will be watched more keenly in the upcoming Cross Country.
Top Junior finishers – 1st place – Ernest Bradley/Meighan (Smart); 2nd Juhawi Ysaguirre (Cabral/Marin Cycling); 3rd Kaydine Pinelo (Smart Junior); 4th Gian Lino (Cabral/Marin Cycling); 5th Brian Sutherland (Cabral/Marin); 6th Patrick Williams (WKC Strikers); 7th Sherwin Requena (WKC Strikers); 8th Shaun Codd (Westrac Alliance); 9th Shaquire Tillett (WKC Strikers); 10th Darien Anderson (WCK Strikers).
Top finishers in the Youth category were: 1st Gian Lino (Cabral/Marin); 2nd Patrick Williams (WKC Strikers); and 3rd Sherwin Requena (WKC Strikers).
Top Females finishers were: 1st place – Alicia Thompson (Belize Bank Swoosh, 3:02:15); 2nd Kaya Cattouse (C-Ray, st); 3rd Paulita Chavarria (C-Ray Cycling, 3:02:23); and 4th Gabrielle Lovell (Digicell-4G Female, 3:10:03).
Top finishers in the Elite/Under 23/Masters race were: 1st place – Joel Adan Borland (Digicell-4G, 3:53:42); 2nd Gregory “Bullett” Lovell (Digicell-4G, 3:54:28); 3rd Byron Pope (Benny’s Megabytes, st); 4th Justin Williams (unattached, st); 5th Johnny Valencia (MEX, Border Town, unofficially 3:54:29); 6th Scottie Weisse (USA, Team Starlight, st); 7th Juan Manuel Yapur (MEX, Team Yapurland, unofficially 3:54:30); 8th Giovanni Lovell (Digicell-4G, unofficially 3:57:56); 9th John Delong (USA, Team Starlight, unofficially 3:57:57); 10th Phillip Leslie (Benny’s Megabytes, unofficially 3:58:02); 11th Tarique Flowers (Benny’s Megabytes); 12th Nissan Arana (Westrac Alliance); 13th Joslyn Chavarria, Jr. (Digicell-4G); 14th Anthony Taylor (USA, unattached); 15th Luis Avila Balam (MEX, Depredadores); 16th Herman “Hijo” Requena (Team Smart); 17th Keion Robateau (Westrac Alliance); 18th Angel Tzib (BECOL Uprising); 19th Ron McKenzie (unattached); 20th Robert Mariano (Digicell-4G); 21st Robert Liam Stewart (Western Spirit); 22nd Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden (unattached); 23rd Horace Burrowes (GUY, unattached); 24th Quinton Hamilton (unattached); 25th Henry Moreira (Team Smart); 26th Jose Choto (C-Ray Road Addikz); 27th Leroy Cassasola (Digicell-4G); 28th Kendrick Gray (Chavarria Cycling); 29th Raymond Cattouse, Jr. (C-Ray Road Addikz); 30th Dwight Lopez (Bel-Cal Cycling); 31st Darnell Barrow (Team Smart); 32nd Joel Vanegas (Digicell-4G); 33rd David Henderson (Team Smart); 34th Tariq Cano (Western Spirit); 35th Elston Coleman (Westrac Alliance); 36th Brandon Morgan (Westrac Alliance); 37th Erwin Middleton (Digicell-4G).
Top finishers in the Masters category were: 1st Robert Mariano (Digicell-4G); 2nd Robert Liam Stewart (Western Spirit); and 3rd Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden (unattached).
And top finishers in the Masters 4/5 category were: 1st Robert Mariano (Digicell-4G); 2nd Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden (unattached); and 3rd Kendrick Gray (Chavarria Cycling).
The next major event on the 2016 proposed cycling calendar is the Valentine Tour on February 11-14, followed by the Mount Hope Classic on February 21; then the Belmopan Classic on February 28; the Women Cross Country on March 13; the Junior Cross Country on March 20; and then the big one, the Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic on March 26.