Ron Vasquez (Elite), Alicia Thompson (Female) and Shaun Codd (Junior) are Champions of KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic 2017
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 4, 2017–Despite all the mayhem, the New Year started in spectacular fashion with beautiful weather for the 27th running of the KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic, “from the border to the Boulevard,” with fans lined up along the route and especially near the finish line on Central American Boulevard.
There was a righteous concern among some local fans, that the “fat” station prizes, 4 of $1,000 each and 1 of $2,000, might be taken away by foreigners; but the Mexican contingent was small and ineffective, and likewise the visitors from the U.S.A. At the end of the day, Belizean cyclists had taken all the top prizes.
For those of us unable to come out to witness the pedal by pedal action, KREM Radio announcers brought the action “live into our living rooms.” Mose Hyde and veteran cycling star Andrew Smiling brought the Elite race, later assisted by Weekend Warrior cyclist Steven Bisset, who started the day riding in the Elite/Masters race from the Corozal/Mexican border, but “cashed in his chips” when the going got too rough, and opted for the “mike” instead of the bike the rest of the way. Karen Rosito and KREM Station Manager Danilee Cadle announced the Female race; while Steve “the Groovemaster” Anthony along with Andrew Ordonez did the honors for the Junior race.
54 Elite and Masters cyclists took off from the Mexico/Belize border for the 96-mile journey to Belize City, and 32 of them finished within the 30-minute window after the winning rider crossed the finish line. There was an early 12-man breakaway group around Mile 74; by Mile 60, the lead group was down to 7. Approaching Mile 35, there was a 4-man lead group with a minute gap ahead of the main peloton. This lead group included Nissan Arana, Ron Vasquez, Geovanni Choto and Tarique Flowers, who was shortly dropped after the sprint for the $1,000 station prize at Mile 35. Those 3 cyclists remained together until they approached the Maskall Junction at Mile 20.
Station prize winners up to that point were as follows: Brandon Morgan (Digicell-4G LTE) at San Joaquin Village; Joslyn Chavarria, Jr. (Digicell-4G LTE) at San Roman Village, the big $2,000 prize; Shane Jones (Westrac Alliance) at Shell One Stop Orange Walk, $1,000; Nissan Arana (Westrac Alliance) at Orange Walk Toll Bridge; Brandon Morgan (Digicell-4G LTE) at Bakers Rank Mile 44; Ron Vasquez (Team Smart) at Smart Tower near Mile 35, $1,000; Ron Vasquez (Team Smart) at Mile 35; Geovanni Choto (Imani’s Team) at Crooked Tree Junction; and Nissan Arana (Westrac Alliance) at Mile 23 ¼.
Thereafter, Ron Vasquez stepped away from the others, and took the solo ride the rest of the way, cleaning up on all other station prizes, while opening a 5-minute gap on the others.
After Ron had crossed the finish line triumphantly in 4:06:09, fans got a treat on the sprint for second place, as Brandon Cattouse over-powered Giovanni Lovell in a two-man race to the tape.
The official finishing list for the Elite/Masters of the KREM Classic is as follows: 1st place – Ron Vasquez (Team Smart); 2nd Brandon Cattouse (Team Smart, 4:10:50); 3rd Giovanni Lovell (Digicell-4G LTE, 4:10:50); 4th Jose Choto (Imani’s Team, 4:11:41); 5th Oscar Quiros, Jr. (Team Smart, st); 6th Nissan Arana (Westrac Alliance, st); 7th Robert Liam Stewart (Unattached, st); 8th Joslyn Chavarria, Jr. (Digicell-4G LTE, st); 9th Keion Robateau (Westrac Alliance, st); 10th Geovanni Choto (Imani’s Team, st); 11th Rudy Rincon (MEX, Team Yapurland, 4:13:20); 12th Joel Vanegas (Westrac Alliance, 4:14:58); 13th Darien Anderson (Benny’s Megabytes, 4:15:39); 14th Shane Jones (Westrac Alliance, st); 15th Pedro Choto (Imani’s Team, st); 16th John Delong (USA, Team Starlight, st); 17th Justin Faux (Unattached, st); 18th Deryn Bellini Amaro (Westrac Alliance, st); 19th Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden (Unattached, st); 20th Mark Staine (Team Smart, st); 21st Ron McKenzie (Benny’s Megabytes, 4:16:12); 22nd Tarique Flowers (Benny’s Megabytes, 4:16:30); 23rd Edgar Alexander Velasquez (MEX, 4:26:19); 24th Isaiah Willacey (Unattached, st); 25th Delawn Abraham (Westrac Alliance, st); 26th Aiden Juan (Unattached, st); 27th George Abraham, Sr. (Bel-Cal Cycling, st); 28th Leroy “Casa” Cassasola (Digicell-4G LTE, st); 29th Jose Luis Baez (MEX, Quintana Roo, st); 30th Yayir de Jesus Godinez Jimenez (MEX, Team Cancun, st); 31st Quinton Hamilton (Unattached, st); and 32nd Joel Adan Borland (Digicell-4G LTE, st).
Borland, last year’s champion, was one of the favorites going into Sunday’s race. It just goes to show that in the sport of cycling, so many things can go wrong on race day – mechanical problems, a puncture, a spill, poor servicing, health issues, a missed break, tactical errors, etc. etc. It takes everything to make a champion – strength, skill, smarts, courage, endurance, and a little nod from Lady Luck.
Masters 35+ – Top finishers in the Masters 35+ category were: 1st place – Jose Choto; 2nd Robert Liam Stewart; and 3rd Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden.
Masters 4/5 – Top finishers in the Masters 4/5 category were: 1st place – Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden; 2nd Isaiah Willacey; and 3rd George Abraham, Sr.
Eight (8) females started the race from Orange Walk Town Hall for the 52-mile ride to Belize City, and 6 of them completed the journey. Except for the first station prize at the Orange Walk Toll Bridge, taken by Gina Lovell, all other station prizes were shared between the two pre-race favorites, defending champion Alicia Thompson and arch-rival Kaya Cattouse. After playing “cat and mouse” with each other all along the way, it finally came down to a dramatic sprint to the finish; and it was Alicia Thompson making it back-to-back as the KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic Champion.
Top Female finishers were: 1st place – Alicia Thompson (Belize Bank Swoosh, 3:16:00); 2nd Kaya Cattouse (C-Ray Cycling, st); 3rd Gabrielle Lovell (Digicell-4G Female, 3:53:00); 4th Kaylynn Gillett (Belize Bank Swoosh, 4:05:00); 5th Alicie King (Belize Bank Swoosh, 4:25:00); and 6th Paulita Chavarria (Unattached, st).
Female Juniors – 1st place – Kaylynn Gillett; 2nd Alicie King; and 3rd Paulita Chavarria.
Also leaving from Orange Walk Town Hall was the Junior race, which comprised of 34 Junior and Youth starters, of which 19 finished the 52-mile distance within the 30 minute window. With last year’s top two Junior finishers, Ernest Bradley and Kaydine Pinelo, in that order, now in the Elite category, this year’s Junior race was totally dominated by Shaun Codd, who led from start to finish, taking all the station prizes on the way to a solo finish in 2:31:36, a comfortable 4 minutes and 22 seconds ahead of the main peloton.
Top Junior finishers were: 1st place – Shaun Codd (Imani’s Team, 2:31:36); 2nd Nashen Ysaguirre (Cabral/Marin Cycling, 2:35:58); 3rd Brian Sutherland (Smart Team, st); 4th Wilhelm Coye (Big Shep, st); 5th Efrain Mencias (Unattached, st); 6th Shawn Armstrong, Jr. (Big Shep, st); 7th Brian Polanco (Imani’s Team, st); 8th Kevin Gentle (Big Shep, st); 9th Darnell Augustine (WKC Strikers, st); 10th Gerson Lovell (Digicell-4G Jr., st); 11th Gian Lovell (Digicell-4G Jr., st); 12th Anthony Rosado, Jr. (Big Shep, st); 13th Patrick Williams (Smart Team, st); 14th Nelson Zayden, Jr. (WKC Strikers, st); 15th Joseph Tillett (Cabral/Marin Cycling, st); 16th Sherwin Requena (Smart Team, st); 17th Carlton Robinson (WKC Strikers, st); 18th Gian Lino (Cabral/Marin Cycling, 2:46:16); and 19th Derrick Chavarria (Chavarria Cycling, st).
Youth – 1st place – Gian Lovell; 2nd Joseph Tillett; and 3rd Derrick Chavarria.