At exactly 9 a.m. on January 1, 2019, 82 riders, me included, took off from the border in front of the Belize Customs on our rigorous journey to Santos Diaz on Central American Boulevard for a total of 91 miles. This was the 29th running of the Krem New Year’s Cycling Classic, which has become one of the biggest Cycling Races in Belize, 2nd only to the Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. My goal was simply to finish.
For some reason, from the border to Corozal Town, the Heads of State seemed content to sit in and relax, and so we got to Corozal with the Peloton pretty much intact, save for a few riders who were dropped. However, from Corozal to Orange Walk was much more intense as we were hit by the strong crosswinds. This caused much more casualties and a few crashes along the way as we ran out of road with nowhere left to hide from the strong breeze.
The first of the nine $1,000 Station Prizes, at San Roman Village (mile 72), was won by American John DeLong and donated by Freetown Drug Store. Shortly after that a break was formed that included Americans John DeLong and his teammate Clayton Travis, Nissan Arana of Westrac, Giovanni Lovell of Digicell, Richard Santiago of Clear the Land Team, Oscar Quiroz of Smart and Mexican Doniseti Vasquez. As we entered Sugar City, the Peloton was in hot pursuit.
At Shell 1 Stop in Orange Walk it was Mexican Doniseti Vasquez winning the 2nd $1,000 Station Prize, donated by Johnny Briceño. Vasquez was from the breakaway group, where the Heads of State were now pushing hard.
As we exited Orange Walk and passed Carmelita, everyone was rudely awakened by the HARD headwind we were now riding into. This broke down a lot of riders as more and more started abandoning the race. At the Smart Tower, nearing Mile 47, it was Nissan Arana out of a break of 7 riders winning the 3rd $1,000 Station Prize, donated by Anthony Mahler, while American Clayton Travis won the 4th $1,000 Station Prize at the BTL Tower at Mile 32, donated by Digicell.
Nissan then won the 5th $1,000 Station Prize, at Mexico Creek Mile 20.5, donated by Lopez Equipment while Clayton Travis took the 6th one at the Maskall Junction, near mile 19, donated by Minister Castro.
It was right after this that John DeLong made his SOLO move, having saved his energy by not sprinting for the Station Prizes. So, by the time they got to the next prize at Maxboro Junction, John DeLong was ALL ALONE and on his way to the finish line, winning all the remaining Station Prizes along the way, including the 7th $1,000 at Mile 11, donated by National Concrete Products, the 8th at Mile 9, donated by Bowen & Bowen, and the final one at the Save-U Entrance, donated by Santiago Castillo. Nissan Arana worked his tail off to catch John DeLong, while DeLong’s teammate, Clayton Travis, just sat on. Eventually, Travis attacked and dropped Nissan Arana and so sailed home solo for 2nd Place.
This attack relegated Nissan to 3rd place, the best placed Belizean, while Mexican Doniseti Vasquez came in Solo for 4th Place, giving 3 of the top 4 Prizes to foreigners. Kudos to Ron Vasquez and Josyln Chavarria Jr., who got away from the Peloton, and caught the remaining front runners and were able to secure 5th and 6th. The defending Champion, Giovanni Lovell, who was in the breakaway, held on for 7th, while Richard Santiago, also in the breakaway, held on for 8th. The Peloton then shot over the Belcan for the mighty sprint which was won by Oscar Quiroz, 9th, Gregory Lovell, 10th, Erwin Middleton, 11th, Palas Joseph, 12th, Thereque Leslie, 13th.
Ernesto Bradley (JawMeighan’s Son) was 14th, and rounding out the top 15 was Tarique Flowers.
In another section of the Amandala there will be more detailed results, but before I sign off I must give special mention to Fitzgerald “Palas” Joseph, who at the age of 52 placed 12th, and 1st in the Masters 35-Plus Category, while Quinton Hamilton and Liam Stewart got 2nd and 3rd.
Finally, to the writer himself, Santino the Chief, who placed 35th and got 2nd place in the Masters 4/5 Category at the tender age of 63 (beaten by Dwight Lopez in that category), while Roque Matus got 3rd in same. Next Stop – The Valentine’s Classic in February.