78 Elite riders took off from Belize City at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning for the 30th Annual Belmopan Cycling Classic, and 64 of them finished the 99.4-mile journey to Belmopan and back to Leslie’s Imports, with Darnell Barrow of Team Santino’s clipping former teammate Gregory Lovell, now riding for Team Zamir, in a sprint to the tape, to complete the race in 4:18:27. Greg had to settle for 2nd place. It was a 12-man sprint to the finish, but this was after their legs had taken considerable pressure during the last fifteen miles, as a determined chase group had caught up with a 3-man lead bunch a few miles outside of Belize City. The rest of the 12-man lead group were: 3rd Panamanian Christian McNish (Benny’s Megabyes), 4th Byron Pope (Benny’s Megabytes), 5th Guatemalan Mario Santizo Lara (Zamir), 6th Joeavin “Faggie” Leslie (Santino’s), 7th Costa Rican Juan Rojas-Villegas (Benny’s Megabytes), 8th Guatemalan Edgar Hoch Orozco (Santino’s), 9th Peter Choto (Western Spirit), 10th Arnidez Rivas (Zamir), 11th David Henderson (Indeco), and 12th Guatemalan Lisandro Ajuc (Santino’s), all clocking the same 4:18:27, for an average of 23.076 miles per hour. (Note that 7th place Costa Rican Juan Rojas is the same that placed 2nd in the 2011 Krem Classic, along with his Costa Rican teammate on Megabytes Marco Salas, both of whom “tore up the field” with an 18-minute margin in the Krem Classic. In Sunday’s Belmopan Classic, Marco Salas placed a modest 23rd, about a minute behind the front bunch. Are they saving something for the “Country”?)
Top finishers in the Masters category were Christian McNish (Benny’s Megabytes), Jose Choto (Western Spirit) and Shane Vasquez (Western Spirit), in that order.
The Women & Masters Cat 4/5 race travelled to Mile 26 and back, and the Mexicans dominated the field of 25 cyclists (including females), with Omar Gomez-Queme (Depredadores) leading a bunch of 5 cyclists to the finish in 2:15:35. He was followed in 2nd place by teammate Carlos Castelan de la Torre (Depredadores); 3rd was Ray Cattouse (C-Ray); 4th Mexican Manuel Ayala (Depredadores), and 5th Mexican David Balam-Interian (Depredadores), all in 2:15:35.
For the women, an unusually large field of 12 female cyclists made the journey, with defending champion Shalini Zabaneh (Sagitun) winning a close sprint to the tape against first year rider Patricia Chavarria (unattached), both registering a time of 2:18:36. A few minutes later, Gina Lovell (unattached) rode in alone for 3rd place in 2:24:24. Next was a group of 4, with Marinette Flowers (unattached) winning the sprint for 4th place, followed in 5th by Anthea Sutherland (Truckers Posse), 6th Kirah Eiley (Smooth Sailing), and 7th Fiona Humes (Telemedia Swoosh), all in 2:29:45. Next was 8th place Jaimala Requena (Indeco) in 2:4202. Then came a threesome, led by 9th place Sheena Castillo (unattached), 10th Carmita Gabb (Telemedia Swoosh), and 11th Tessa Usher (Telemedia Swoosh), all in 2:43:13. The last female finisher was Maricela Garcia (Smooth Sailing), who persevered to reach the finish in 3:24:27.
The Juniors & Youth race went to Jaguar Paw and back, a journey of 70 miles, and 26 finished the race from a starting field of 31 riders. It was a 6-man sprint to the tape, and Clear the Land team proved the big winners, with 2 of the top 3 spots. Juniors winner was Wasani Castro (Clear the Land), followed by 2nd place Giovanni Lovell (Indeco), 3rd Jafari Castro (Clear the Land), 4th Adrian Linares (Cayo Uprising), 5th Eldon Simmons (M&M Engineering) and 6th Steven Castenada (Twin Towns), all recording a time of 3:12:38, for an average of 21.803 miles per hour. The rest of the top 10 finishers were, 7th Gian Zetina (Cayo Uprising, 3:16:02), 8th Riis Cattouse (C-Ray, 3:17:40), 9th Anfernee Young (Cayo High Road, 3:17:40), and 10th Juan Umana (Cayo High Road, 3:26:50), who won a 5-man sprint including 11th Christopher Sandoval (Cayo Uprising), 12th Oscar Quirios (Cayo Uprising), 13th Austin Armstrong (Twin Towns), and 14th Joel Borland (Indeco).
Top finisher in the Youth category was Giovanni Lovell (Indeco), followed by Jafari Castro (Clear the Land) and Anfernee Young (Cayo High Road), in that order.
Junior Cross Country on April 3
The next major event on the cycling calendar is the 12th Annual Junior Cross Country Classic which takes place on Sunday, April 3, leaving at 9:00 a.m. from the Succotz Ferry in Cayo and travelling 72 miles to Mile 1 ½ in front of Leslie’s Imports on the outskirts of Belize City.