The KREM New Year's Day Cycling Classic is called "Sugar and Cream" - but there was neither sweetness nor light when this year's race was over. For Belizean cycling fans it was a bitter ending as foreign riders again dominated the competition this time almost to the point of humiliation.
In fact, for at least half of the 92 miles, the only race was to see who would come in third. That's because two top Costa Rican Cyclists owned the road. Our 7news team of Jose Gomez and Codie Noralez followed on motorbike. Here's what they saw:…
Jules Vasquez Reporting
The 21st. Krem New Year's classic - 84 riders started the race - 73 Belizeans and 11 foreigners, Shane Vasquez was there, he is Belize's last cross country champion in 2006. Giovanni Froggy Leslie is always a strong contender.
Byron Pope - another of Belize's brightest hopes along with Brandon Cattouse.
And in his new team colours - Greg Lovell - and his teammate Marlon Castillo sign in.
For the foreign riders, Marcos Salas from Costa Rica - who was third in the race last year - came for the challenge.
At 9:00 am, they were off from the border roaring down the highway - against a strong headwind.
Heading into Corozal town the first significant breakaway is already established and it features five men Christian McNish of Benny's megabytes, José Choto and Angel Tzib of Western Spirit, Allen Castillo, of Team Zamir, and Nissan Arana of Team Typhoon.
At San Joaquin Christian Mcnish took that prize, and at the Libertad junction - the same 5 was still intact.
45 seconds behind they are being chased by Liam Stewart, Ruben Cano and Rafael Choto.
The main pelethon - working at a visibly slower pace - lag another 45 seconds behind.
And they would fall further behind. At Louisville village, the breakaway is now 1:36 seconds and Angel Tzib wearily gives up his ghost of a chance leaving the lead group now down to four.
And they are now being hotly pursued by a group of 3 - which includes Marcos Salas, and Juan Carlos Rojas - both Costa Ricans riding for Benny's - and Guatemalan Luis Santizo of Team Sugar City.
At San Pablo the merger takes place at the front of the race - the four frontrunners are joined by the three chasers - so the breakaway is now 7.
And as we head into Orange Walk, the two Costa Ricans continue to drive the pace towards the biggest single station prize of the day - one thousand dollars at the Shell One Stop Service Station - which after a hot sprint is taken by Orange Walk Native Nissan Arana who easily beats out Allen Castillo.
As we head out of Orange Walk - there is a new configuration - after the sprint - there is no Nissan Arana, no Allen Castillo, no Christian McNish - only Costa Ricans, Salas and Rojas along with Guatemalan Santizo with Jose Choto the only Belizean rider holding on.
By the time we are at mile 45 the time gap is a massive 5:11 but the leaders are now down to two - both Costa Ricans rising for Benny's.
At mile 35, Juan Carlos Rojas easily takes the hundred dollars prize donated by Brothers Habet. At the Crooked Tree junction Marcos Salas takes the 200 dollar station prize and some six minutes behind, Belizeans Giovanni Choto, Hernan Ochaeta and Shane Vasquez are on the chase.
And some two minutes later, the main peloton - which is now merely a few riders - are being led by team sugar city. Around mile 25, the breakway is now 7:30 in front of the three chasers and 8:44 in front of the main peloton.
The two leaders just do not let up and at mile 20, the two riders appear to sprint for a prize - the team-mates putting on as good a show as possible
At the Old Northern Highway - it's all thumbs up from Salas inside Sand Hill - with 8 minutes plus ahead - the party has already begun with the two riders toasting Red Bull like they're on the Champs Elysse toasting champagne they even have time to pop their collar.
At the Burrell Boom junction the two riders are coasting and for the prize of a sheep. And around mile 7, the two foreign riders look like tourists as they round the corner by the new river containment wall…where the gap is now reported to be more than ten minutes.
With two miles left to go, Juan Carlos makes the sign and as they pass their sponsor's headquarters - it's now only a matter of minor drama over which one of the two Costa Ricans will take the prize. It turns out neither - as they approached the line - holding hands - a nice gesture - but it created a slight controversy at the line as officials had some difficulty determining which of the foreign riders crossed the line first.
But after a review it was determined that Marco Salas had beaten Juan Rojas by a half inch. A stunning 17 plus minutes later - the solitary figure of the first Belizean comes into view - Shane Vasquez, of Western Spirit a former 2007 champion rolls in for third place while Allen Castillo of Team Zamir was fourth and Hernan Ochaeta of Team Santino's finished fifth. And unattached rider Henry Moreira finished sixth.
While there was a sprint for seventh place - Venezuelan Gil Cordovez takes out Brandon Cattouse who finished eighth.
"It seems odd to me that 40 men cant chase down 2 men."
Shane Vasquez, 3rd Place - KREM Classic
"It might look that ridiculous from stander bys and so forth that two guys would go left 40 plus riders, but when you look at it here in Belize, this is just the beginning of our racing season. These guys have come off bigger tours than what we have ever race in Belize. One of them is the champion of Costa Rica this year right here; they were on major tours coming up to this race, so automatically they are in the form. For us Belizeans, most Belizeans will enter in the middle of season coming towards cross country, so this is just the beginning for Belizean cyclist and so forth."
Marcos Salas Arias, 1st Place - KREM Classic
"We came strong and very prepared from the tour of Costa Rica. We manage to maintain the speed 30-35 kilometers per hour, we never slowed down so we manage to maintain a good time."
In total the two Costa Ricans took home almost six thousand dollars in cash in cash for station prize and finishing prizes.
Due to the strong headwind, the time on this year's race - three hours fifty nine minutes (3:59) was 20 minutes slower than last year's 3:39 time and thirty minutes slower than the record three hours twenty nine minutes.