Sports — 09 March 2005 — by Melvin Torres

This journey will pass over the most rugged, mountainous topography on tarmac. It is a race that will start on the flats for approximately 30 miles, and then enter the mountains for another 25 miles or so; it will then turn onto the Western Highway against the roller coaster region of the landscape for another 23 miles. The flats will come back at Mile 24 until the finish line.

This race will require special tactical awareness. It is where the specialists – the pacers, the climbers and the sprinters will be tested to the fullest. The pacers cannot take it for granted and believe that they can run away early. The climbers will not have a ?given? to gain time on the field when the road tilts up without the risk of having their rivals come back when the road levels out. And the sprinters have got to battle with the natural environment as well as these specialists to reach the glory line for a chance to triumph.

The race?s own character will bridle these riders? efforts in how they respond to the challenges. Risk taking will be limited due to the upcoming race on March 26, 2005, that has become known as ?be-all and end-all of the cycling year?. That is, the Annual Cross Country. No one wants to risk it all and end up injured or strained before Holy Saturday.

The defending champion for this race is the giant of the road – San Cas? Ernest ?Jawmeighan? Meighan. This year, B.T.L.?s Greg Lovell has surfaced as willing to test Jawmeighan in every race. I mean, Lovell truly challenges him and his reputation that has come from years of consistency in the winner?s circle.

In my view, it is fair to mention that this youngster wants what Ernest Meighan has, and recognizes that he must go through him to get it. While Greg Lovell is making this challenge, it has created a rivalry that has been missing from the sports since the likes of Kenrick Halliday and Alfred Parks (two great champions) retired from the sport in the early 80?s. These two new warlords must also do battle with the very talented Western Spirits team – Capitan ?Shane Vasquez?; the likes of the Choto brothers – Rafael and Jose hailing from the defending champion?s team San Cas; Ian Smith, last year?s bronze medallist, and cool and calm Roger Troyer from Guinness Culture Continental.

The Masters of Robert Mariano and Quinton Hamilton, from Benny?s Megabytes, will also pose their threat. The ever-hungry perseverance of Michael Lewis must be noted. He has returned to form and the winner?s circle in this year already.

The men?s juniors (for riders who were born 1986 and after) ride from on top of the mountain in the Hummingbird known as ?The Gap?, a distance of 72 miles.

The junior race is riding slowly of late since last year?s defending road champion, SanCas?s Marlon Castillo, left this class. The field is wide open and it will be a toss up to see who will emerge to claim this title. The leading candidates are M&M Engineering?s Domingo Lewis, and SanCas?s brothers Giovanni and Peter Choto. The ever-upstart Darnell Barrow of Guinness Seahawks will round out the top contenders.

The women?s version is expected to start from the Blue Hole Park, a distance of 60 miles. This is the longest and most difficult race on their calendar; it will present opportunities for the ?lonesome dove? who ventures to ride a torrid pace on her own. If there is an early breakaway, female fans may see a lone rider or two sprinting at the end.

Nine females are expected to ride, with Marinette Flowers of SanCas leading the charge. Guinness Seahawk?s Anamarie Bennett has the form and dedication to make any daring move. Then there is Shalini Zabaneh, hailing from the Sagitun Camp, riding for less than a year but already showing attributes of greatness.

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