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#502942 - 04/03/15 11:14 AM The Garland And The Glory
Marty Offline

The garland and the glory - those words have been drummed into the collective national conscious for 87 years - because the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic is more than a race, it is a cornerstone of nationalism, and, in fact, we claim the cross country more zealously and guard that garland more jealously than the French do the famous tour de France and its yellow jersey. And on Saturday - once again - all that goes on the line when just over a hundred riders compete in the 87th riding of the Cross Country.

In 2013, Belizean Darnell Barrow held on to win, but last year, international rider, Juan Pablo Magallanes took it back for the foreigners.

So, who will win this year? That's what we asked the cyclists when they had a ceremonial ride through the city this evening:

The race starts at 6 a.m., and our news team will be out there from start to finish to update you on Tuesday's newscast.


Channel 7


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#503015 - 04/05/15 11:11 AM Re: The Garland And The Glory [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Justin Williams wins Cross Country Cycling Classic in dramatic sprint finish

Belizean-American Justin Williams, older son of veteran rider Calman Williams, is the winner of the 87th Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic following a dramatic sprint to finish the race at the BTL Park.

It was another 140 grueling miles on the George Price Highway beginning just after six this morning, but Justin and his younger brother Corey Williams, dominated the race almost from its start and Justin became the first Belizean-American to take the garland of roses just after midday, finishing in five hours, fifty five minutes and 39 seconds.

Patrick Jones


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Top 3 finishers- 1st Justin Williams, 2nd Scottie Weis, 3rd David Henderson Jr.


Justin Williams wins 87th Cross Country Cycling Classic

Belizean-American, Justin Williams of the BelCal cycling team brought home the garland, as he won the 87th annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic, organized by the Cycling Federation of Belize.

Ryan Bauman’s 2008 record of 5:40:12 was in no danger of being broken, as Williams clocked 5:54:39 on his 142.8-mile ride from the rolling start in front of Leslie’s Imports to the finish line in front of the BTL park in Belize City. Williams won the $6,000 first prize sponsored by Digicell 4G, the winner’s garland of roses from Florasol and a trophy. He also won four other trophies: the Elston Kerr Cup from Jex Trophy.com, a trophy from the Jeffery O’Brien family, honoring the four-time Cross Country winner, the Altreith Smith Memorial trophy from the Smith family and the Ludrick “Buno” Smith Memorial trophy. He also won a $400 shopping spree at Mirage, a round trip ticket from Maya Island Air, a weekend stay at Ramon’s Village in San Pedro, and a case of Coconut Rum from Travellers Liquors.

Williams also won several bonus prizes as the first Belizean to win the Cross Country since Darnell Barrow’s victory in 2013: he won $10,000 prize from Massy United Insurance, a $5,000 prize from the Ministry of Education and Sports, $250 from LC Distributors and a parcel of land from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

American rider, Scottie Weisse from Virginia, riding for the Starlight team from the USA, finished 30 feet behind Williams to win the $3,000 second prize, the Altreith Smith Memorial plaque and a $400 shopping spree at the Wings Store in San Pedro.

Belizean rider, David Henderson Jr of the SMART Zoom team won the $2,000 third prize and a trophy, and an overnight stay at the Barefoot Caribe in Caye Caulker.

Mexican rider, Yayir de Jesus Jimenez Godinez of the Cancun cycling team clocked 5:54:53 to win the $1,000 fourth prize and a trophy, while Justin’s little brother and teammate, Cory Williams, was hard on his wheel to win the $800 fifth prize and a trophy.

Byron Pope of the Benny’s Megabytes team led the chase group, clocking 6:01:07 to win the $600 sixth prize, while Weisse’s teammate, the 2004 Cross country champion Chris Harkey, took the $425 seventh prize. Mexican Manuel Rodas of the SMART Zoom team claimed the $325 eighth prize, and Jose Choto of the C-Ray Road Addikz clocked 6:01:21 to win the $225 ninth prize.

Colombian rider, Jose Robles, of the Western Spirits team, rounded out the top 10 to win a $150 prize. Rashawn Bahati of the Belize Link-UP team from the USA was 11th; while Mexican rider, Hector Rangel of the Benny’s Megabytes was 12th, and the 2005 Cross Country champion, Bill Elliston of the USA was 13th. John Delong of the Starlight team was 14th and Luis Alberto Balam of the Predators team was 15th ; all 11th to 15th place finishers received a $100 prize and a trophy.

Leroy Cassasola of the Santino’s “Ride to Victory” team was 16th, Tarique Flowers of Benny’s Megabytes was 17th, Richard Santiago of the Digicell 4G team was 18th. The 2006 Cross Country champion, Shane Vasquez of the Western Spirits team was 19th, while American rider, Guy East of the Santino’s “ride to Victory” team rounded out the top 20.

Santiago’s teammate, Joel Borland led a second chase peloton to finish 21st in 6:04:07, while the 2013 Cross Country Champion, Darnell Barrow of the SMART Zoom team was 22nd in 6:04:10. Santiago’s teammate, Joslyn Chavarria outsprinted Giovanni Leslie of the Santino’s team to finish 23rd, while the Williams’ teammate, David Santos was 25th; and Angel Tzib and Mark Staine, both of the SMART team was 26th and 27th.

Erwin Middleton of Benny’s Megabytes and Nissan Arana of the Predators team won the first two station prizes as the race left the city, and Darnell Barrow won several station prizes as the first rider passing the Belmopan junction. Scottie Weisse took the station prize in Camalote, and Justin Williams moved to the fore to win a station prize at the Public Works compound in Santa Elena.

David Henderson was first over the Hawksworth Bridge to win several prizes at the halfway point, and at the turn-around at the Coronation Park in San Ignacio. Weisse took over the pace to win several station prizes on the return at Unitedville, Teakettle and the Belmopan junction. Shane Vasquez won the sprint for the station prize at Harmonyville, but Weisse remained on the pace to win another prize at St. Matthew’s Village and Cheers.

Weisse and Jimenez Godinez made a break at Cheers Restaurant at mile 33, and Henderson and the Williams brothers were the only three Belizeans to tag along. Jimenez-Godinez won the station prize at Mahogany Heights, and this five-man breakaway soon opened up a four-minute gap from the nearest chase group. Weisse continued to lead, sweeping the next three station prizes at the Outback Ranch, the Belize Zoo and at mile 25, and won four more prizes in Hattieville. Cory Williams and Jimenez challenged for the lead, but Weisse won four more station prizes between CISCO Construction and the Faber’s Road junction. Cory won 13 station prizes in the last miles entering the city and on the Central American Boulevard, with Justin winning the $1,000 prize at the cemetery passing the graves of the 1997 and 2001 Cross Country champion, Ernest “Jawmeighan” Meighan and his teammate, Ernest “Dangalang” Thurton, before the sprint to the finish.

The Reporter


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#503105 - 04/08/15 10:51 AM Re: The Garland And The Glory [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cross Country 2015 Crowned Justin Williams

On Saturday, Belizeans rejoiced when 25 year old Justin Williams claimed the garland "for country." Williams is a Belizean American with strong ties to home who came in fourth two years ago - but was determined to win in 2015. To do so, he had to get a little brotherly help. 7News camera man Codie Norales was out on the road from beginning to end - and here's what he saw:..

Daniel Ortiz reporting
100 riders, including 25 foreigners, took off from the BTL Park for the ceremonial ride out of the city for the 87th Running of the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Class.

Over the last 10 years, Belize as a country, has seen only 3 natives capturing the garland, and so, Belizeans at home and abroad were waiting with abated breath wondering if one of their own would win this one. The defending Champion, Mexican Juan Pablo Magallanes, was not in the line-up today. There were 6 former champions competing. These were Darnell Barrow, Giovanni Choto, Shane Vasquez, Michael Lewis, Chris Harkey, and Bill Elliston.

Just after the Fabers Road Junction, the starting whistle blows, and they are officially off to Cayo.

8 miles into the race, this are the sights and sounds of the early morning and the peloton, with no significant breakaways yet.

At the station prize in Hattieville, Shane Vasquez takes control, followed by Scotty Weiss, Erwin Middleton, and Delon Gentle, and right behind them is the peloton.

Around Mile 18, a group of 7 have successfully separated themselves from the main group of riders. These include Richard Santiago, Erwin Middleton, brothers Corey and Justin Williams, Aiden Juan, Shane Vasquez, and Scotty Weiss. As we can see they're working cohesively to try to extend their lead.

At Rockville, the lead 7 remains are intact, and, but less than a minute behind a group of six that includes Peter Choto, David Henderson Jr., Phillip Leslie, Mexican Yahir Jimenez Godinez, Leroy Cassasola, and Delon Gentle is trailing them.

A few minutes behind American Guy East is trying to make a break from the main peloton. Around mile 28 the lead group of 7 is rolling, and they're replacing all the fluids and electrolytes that they're burning.

At La Democracia, the same 7 are in front, and less than a minute behind, the chase group that was six is now down to 4, minus Phillp Leslie and Mexican Godinez, who are only seconds behind.

Around mile 27, there is a merger of the breakaway 7 and the chase group of 4. In the lead, we have Shane Vasquez of Western Spirits, American Scotty Weiss of Team Starlight, Erwin Middleton of Benny's Megabytes, Richard Santiago of Team Digicell, Justin and Corey Williams of Team Bel-Cal, Mexican Godinez of Team Cancun, David Henderson of Smart Zoom, Leroy Cassasola of Team Santinos, Peter Choto and Aiden Juan of Team C-Ray.

At the Belmopan Junction, David Henderson Jr. wins the $950, as carrot cake, some orange juice, tropical brandy, and hotel stay for 2.

At this point in the race the gap is over 3 minutes, and as we roll through Camalote, the breakaway, which is now 11 men strong, seems to be well organized with everyone taking a turn on the pace.

Passing Teakettle, there is signs of fatigue, but the group of 11 continues to extend their lead. At Dead Man's Curve, everything remains the same. At Mount Hope, Aiden Juan easily takes the prize, while the other 10 leaders are right on his heels.

As we inch our way toward Cayo, our camera catches the lead group of 11 on their ascent to the top of Floral Park.

At the halfway point, the crowds anxiously await the arrival of the principals of the Classic, and as the riders come into view David Henderson Jr. is the first to cross the Hawksworth Bridge and captures that station prize including a 400 dollar shopping spree, a return ticket on a local airline, $200 cash, and a high-end cellular phone.

Almost 5 minutes later, Giovanni Choto of Team Digicell is attempting to catch up with the break away, and 30 seconds later, the main peloton, which is noticeably smaller than before is led by Angel Tzib and Chris Harkey. They are still trying to figure out the way forward.

On the return journey, the lead group is laboring to manage the 4 plus minutes advantage that they enjoy. Aiden Juan is taking a midmorning snack, with just about 45 miles to the finish.

Passing the Deadman Curve once again, the leader remain committed to working together, but Peter Choto, and Erwin Middleton have been dropped.

The time gap from the leaders to the chase is now 5 minutes and 25 seconds. Aiden Juan takes the station prize in Roaring Creek, and almost 5 minutes later a group of 12, lead by American Guy East are still trying to figure out the formula to get closer to the frontrunners.

But around mile 46, the chase group of 12 has been caught by the main Peloton, and they still can't cut into the gap created by the leaders. Guy East, who won Belmopan Cycling Classic, explains.

Guy East - American Elite Cyclist
"Hard day, it's not easy. Hard race. I don't know what to do. I can't get away."

Back at the front, at around mile 41, the lead group which started out as 12 is now down to 9 riders.

But 9 miles later, at around mile 32, 4 men are dropped, and the lead group is now down to 5. Missing are, Leroy Cassasola, Richard Santiago, Shane Vasquez, and Aiden Juan.

So, as we head toward Belize City, lead group consist of Mexican Godinez of Cancun, Justin and Corey Williams of Bel-Cal, David Henderson of Smart Zoom, and Scotty Weiss of Starlight.

At Rockville the lead 5 drives on, and the last reported time check is 4 minutes 40 seconds.

At Hattieville, Scotty Weiss take the prize, and Justin Williams and the others are right on his wheel. Noticeably, David Henderson has stopped working.

10 miles later, at the police checkpoint in Belize City, the 5 keeps together, and no attacks are being launched. But, the race is quickly winding down.

Rolling past the Lord Cemetery, all 5 riders start picking up the pace, but at this point, they all know that it will come down to a sprint for the finish line.

When that finally happens the first man of the lead group to cross the finish line is Belizean American Justin Williams, who wins his first Cross Country in his cycling career. American Scottie Weisse is only a few seconds behind him for second place, followed David Henderson Jr. for third. Fourth place is Mexican Godinez of Cancun Cycling is 4th Place, and Justin's brother, Corey Williams, rounds out the top 5.

Justin Williams - Winner, 2015 Cross Country
"I have so much pride right now. I am so happy. There was a couple time in the race I was hurting, but I just kept thinking to myself, I got to do it for the country and I just rode on pride today."

David Henderson Jr. - 3rd Place, 2015 Cross Country
"The other guys that I chased with, as the pressure came on, they look to go back way. It's just heart and soul and I really tried to pull it through from mile 20 to Belize City."

Corey Williams - 5th Place, 2015 Cross Country
"I am really happy my brother took it home."

Reporter
"Corey, what kind of game plan did you have coming into this race?"

Corey Williams - 5th Place, 2015 Cross Country
"To run myself into the ground for my brother."

Scottie Weisse - 2nd Place, 2015 Cross Country
"My strategy and the team's strategy today was to be aggressive, so that's what I tried to do early on and I was able to get in the move and we all worked very well together going at your station prizes. I had a great day and I felt great on the bike. This race inspires me, I really wanted to it. Second Place is great."

Justin Williams finished the race in 5 hours 54 minutes - well off the record of 5 hours 40 minutes. He won the $6,000 first prize sponsored by Digicell 4G, the garland and a trophy - and as the Belizean winner, he won a $10,000 prize from Massy United Insurance, a $5,000 prize from the Ministry of Education and Sports, $250 from LC Distributors and a parcel of land from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Later on we'll have an extended sit down with the new champion - where he discusses his family ties to the race - and where puts aside doubts about his Belizean-ness..

Cross Country Champ Justin Williams, In His Blood

But we did speak to Justin Williams - the winner of the 87th. Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. Justin is the elder son of Callyman Williams - a former rider well known in the cycling community. But Justin's family tree also goes way back into cycling history with the Miguel's - the most storied cycling dynasty in Cross Country history. Today we spoke to him about that family history and how it led him to the line on Saturday:..

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"We grew up in a Belize community in LA, so every is always talking about it. My dad who brought us out here when we were kids. One of my first memory as a kid we being in Belize on my Uncle Dwight's motorcycle. We've been out here a lot and the culture us just embedded in us. When people ask how does it feel to be a Belizean? We don't know any different. We are Belizeans - that's the way we grew up. Our dad always doing the cross country and us always hearing about the cross country - our uncle always winning the cross country. People always coming at our house on Sundays after long rides. We use to have barbeques at our house after long rides and all our uncles and my dad friends arguing about who won this and won that - it's just something we grew up with."

Jules Vasquez
"Your father has always been a part of the cycling fraternity and the family here in Belize. But, he has never won a cross country. Was he sort of living vicariously through you guys?"

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"No. Not at all. He didn't even wanted us to ride. For the longest time he was like no, you guys don't need to ride. He would tell me that I am too soft to ride. I know he is proud because we have one in the family. I think that what's important. It's a lot of pride."

"Sometimes I know Corey was racing for me, but at the same time we race for the pride of our family - our dad, our uncles, our mom - that's why we are racing - for the people. We came here and like I was telling Corey, I felt like everyone was my family when I was taking pictures after race."

Justin Williams has been riding in Belize since he was a 14 year old in the junior cross country. And so he is familiar with the race and the road - but his younger brother Cory wasn't ready to deal with the sometimes rough conditions that can precede the cross country. When he agreed to come and ride the cross country - he asked his uncle to set up a proper situation for him as a professional rider. They explained how that translated to dominance on Saturday:..

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"My Uncle Fred just make it happen. He got us a nice place to stay with air conditioning, he got us a chef that cooked for us every day and those are the things you need to be successful. You need that environment where you don't have to worry about anything, but winning the race. We had everything we needed to get to the race in the condition we wanted to be and then when we got into the race, we just wanted to put two guys in the break and luckily we put us two in the break."

Cory Williams, 5th - Cross Country 2015
"It was me and Justin in the break. When you get somebody that's going to be dedicated to helping that other person wins, it's really dangerous."

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"Because then it's an all effort. There is no sitting up, there is no waiting. Every time the race would sit up at some point, Corey would get to the front. So, the race is constantly moving. We also didn't fought for any station prizes - everybody could take them. We are here for the win. We are not here for station prizes. So, I think with that in mind, everyone in the break just like did their work."

Jules Vasquez
"As you are heading into the city, you just pass through the cemetery, you reached on to Central American Boulevard, you are turning and fans are there, the crowd is there and the hype begins. At this point it's undecided. You don't know who is going to win. How do you feel in that moment?"

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"Electric. It felt like nothing else I have experienced. It was overwhelming almost. My heart rate went up and I had to like kind of try to block out. You enjoyed it for a little bit, because it comes as a wave and then you have to block it out, because if you ride with the crowd, you are going to do something that isn't in the game plan or you would do something that you get excited about."

Cory Williams, 5th - Cross Country 2015
"I got into the cemetery I couldn't help myself but smile. I saw all the people on the side of the road really loud, I was dying. But I felt certain that we were going to win, because I knew they couldn't beat Justin. I had them sitting out all day - I was doing all the work."

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"And then we got maybe in the last 500 meters and everything started like becoming real. I just knew I had won at that point, because sprinting is what I do - that's what I am the best at. So, Scotty Weiss went early to try to catch me off guard. I just like let him, built up the speed, got in his draft and then I know it was over. He was looking down, looking back, looking for anything. But I was already there and then as soon as he sat down I just went to ride around him. I didn't wanted to give him any chance to breathe or anything. I started sprinting early and I was like probably keep peddling pass the line, but I know I had won so much. Everybody screaming and the crowd got loud when I came around, because they knew I was going to win and I knew I was going to win. It's just like crazy. Then after I won the race and I cross the line, then like all of that like "cold seed" - everything comes in. Then when I turned around and stop and people running towards me, then it's started to sink in. It still didn't sinked in completely. Even though when I got on the stage, it still wasn't all there and then like probably today, was the first day we were like, we did it. We brought it home. We really did it."

And so while they have Belizean roots and bona-fides that run deep - still, some question whether the garland really stayed at home and whether this should be legitimately called a Belizean victory since they live and train in the USA. The Los Angelinos said they are all- Belizean:...

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"That just don't make any sense to me. I don't know how you are not going to be Belizean. It's like I didn't grow up surfing. I don't really know what American is. What is American culture? Because all I know that American culture is, is just taking from other cultures. I know that I am Belizean. I know that when I think of where I am from, I think of Belize and that's been since I was little. I have a Belizean flag in my room. So, it just don't make any sense and I just think it's just people that have negative things to say and just want people to hear - they are just being controversial, which is fine. We don't care about that. That don't affect us. That's not going to stop us from coming. That's not going to stop us from winning. That's not going to stop me from going to the Olympics with Belize. If they like it or not, we are here to stay. Eventually, they are going to either jump onboard or not jump onboard. That's not really our focus or our problem."

Cory Williams, 5th - Cross Country 2015
"Jump onboard or jump off ship."

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"It's one of those thing we've been hearing in creole since we were little. So like we understand it. We think in creole. Just because we went to school in America..."

Cory Williams, 5th - Cross Country 2015
"The funny thing is, we say something in American words wrong. We learn how to speak..."

Justin Williams, Cross Country Champion
"So like all our American friends is like dude, you sound really weird when you talk. But out here they say dude you guys sound really weird when you talk - so, it's like lose-lose. There is no in-between for us."

Justin Williams says his dream is to ride the Tour De France with the Belize flag on his jersey. He has ridden all over the world including Qatar, Oman and the under 23 Paris Roubaix.

Channel 7


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