BELIZE CITY, Tues. July 28, 2020– My last Pedal by Pedal report was on March 15, after which Covid-19 shut us down. I am now back to report on the first major race of the Cycling Calendar since then. It just happens to be my 4th Annual Tour de Santino 2020. This is an event I started in May 2017 to celebrate my birthday, and which I labeled The International Masters Tour de Santino for riders 40 and over. However, due to the closing of our borders, I decided to have a local version for the Weekend Warriors Club instead.
By the time we saddled up for Stage 1 on Saturday morning in Hattieville, 70 Weekend Warriors (WW) riders had registered. At 9:15 a.m., we left Hattieville to a nice reception by the village on our trek to St. Margaret on the Hummingbird, for a total of 54 miles.
As the race started, Kenny Gladden of Digicell attacked and made good his escape. In no time, he was joined by his teammate Eddie Usher, 2 Kulture riders – Alvan Gillett and Wayne Moses, Preston Martinez of M&M Engineering, and Dwayne Wade. The peloton mistakenly did not take this break seriously and let the break balloon. I was worried, as I knew these 6 had the fire power to run to the finish.
By the time we got to Cheers, the break had its first casualty in Alvan Gillett. By the time we entered the Hummingbird, the remaining 5 riders up front had over 2 minutes on us. At Cabana Hill, the first major climb of the day, all hell broke loose, which got rid of about 10 riders.
Shortly after that, to our surprise, we caught Ken Gladden, one of WW’s top riders, followed by the next major climb known as 1 Mile. This hill got rid of another 10 or so riders, and the front runners now had almost 3 minutes on us.
As we approached Armenia, we saw Dwayne Wade fluttering in the distance, which was an even bigger surprise to the whole peloton, as many had picked him or Palas, who missed the break, to win this Tour.
The next major climb was Blue Hole, almost 2 miles long, where more casualties fell by the roadside.
By the time we hit the Sibun Bridge, the St. Margaret climb was on the horizon; but the hardest 3 miles of the day remained. By this time, however, the 3 riders up front were heading on a 4-minute lead, so we were simply fighting to save time. As the hill crested at its highest, Eddie Usher softened up his 2 competitors with attack number one and, even before they were fully recovered, hit them with the real “Soso Muma,” easily dropping them, to take Stage 1 and the King of Mountain Jersey along with it. Wayne Moses was 2nd, while Preston Martinez cracked at the very end, but secured his 3rd Place.
Over 4 1/2 minutes later, the top dogs of the peloton rolled in, and similarly made their move on the crest. Palas got 4th, Vallan Symns 5th, Barney Brown 6th, Warren Coye 7th, Kaya Cattouse 8th, Nicole Gallego 9th, and Ruthford Cunningham got 10th. Yours truly was 20th.
Sunday’s Stage 2 congregated at San Cas Plaza with a withered field of about 55 riders left in the Tour. We had a lead-out to Old Belize, via Chetumal Street, where the race started. Again, a couple riders attacked at the gun, with Dwayne Wade joining them. For 2 consecutive days he broke out of Alcatraz, and for 2 straight days he was caught; but this time he secured enough points up front for the Green Sprinter’s Jersey. The race went through the Boom Road and turned at the northern junction, back to Hattieville and then to Belize City via Chetumal Street, finishing at the San Cas Plaza.
With 13 miles to the finish, 3 of the main contenders, Palas, Vallan Symns and Barney Brown made good their escape from the peloton. None of the two wanted to work with Palas, so he went on the offensive, and after a couple massive attacks, got rid of his perennial rival, Barney Brown, who slowly made his way back to the peloton. Vallan, trying to avoid the same fate, sucked Palas’ wheel for the remaining ride to the line. Usually, when a rider sucks a wheel this long, he will not sprint, and give the man who brought him in the victory; but not Vallan. He gladly took the Stage win, which secured the Green Jersey for Dwayne Wade. Had Palas won the Stage, you see, he would have gotten the necessary points to lift the Green Jersey off D-Wade. In the ensuing sprint for 3rd to 5th, Sherman Thomas, Warren Coye and Duane Garbutt finished in that order.
After 2 days of racing, the results were as follows:
General Classification: 1st Place – Eddie Usher of Digicell; 2nd Wayne Moses of Kulture; 3rd Preston Martinez of M&M; 4th Vallan Symns of Kulture; and 5th Palas Joseph.
Top 5 “B” Riders: 1st Place – Kuchin Gooding of Santino’s; 2nd Simeon Gladden of FT; 3rd Ryan Willoughby of M&M; 4th Andrew Ordonez of Lampaz; 5th Duane Garbutt; and 6th – the old man of the Peloton, Santino the Chief (not in pic).
“C” Category: 1st Place – Irfaan Numan; 2nd Richard Gabourel; 3rd Andre Burgess of M&M.
Female Category: 1st Place – Kaya Cattouse; 2nd Nicole Gallego; 3rd Alicia Thompson.
55-Plus Category: 1st Place – Warren Coye; 2nd Andrew Ordonez; 3rd Santino the Chief.
There were exactly a dozen 55-Plus riders in this Tour.)