So, two top cyclists have been suspended for banned substances, and as we told you earlier, there was a scary accident this morning where 6 American cyclists were plowed down by a 74 year old driver. Those situations have slightly fouled the air heading into the 88th Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. But, Cross Country has its own energy, it's own history, and Belizeans from all walks of life have a deathless love affair with the drama of the race. So what are the expectations for the Cross Country race this Saturday?
We stopped by today around 4:30 this evening to see the annual cycling parade - a teaser to this Saturday's race.
This is the 88th annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. The event starts at 6 am and will see hundreds of cyclists, mostly local and some foreign, face off for the garland and a bevy of prizes. Channel 7 will team up with KREM TV for live coverage of the race of Saturday. IT starts at 5:00 am, so tune in then.
Padilla brothers... winners of the 88th Annual DigiCell Cross Country Cycling Classic! Congratulations to the Guatemalans who won the cross country classic.
Guatemalan brothers are top two Cross Country cycling race winners
Guatemalan cyclist, Alejandro Padilla, is the winner of the 88th Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic, which ended just before midday today in front of the BTL Park in Belize City. Padilla finished the race in 5: 51:09.
The second place finisher was Padilla’s younger brother, Julio who rode in side by side with his older brother and allowed him to cross the finish line in a tenth of a second before him.
The younger Padilla was the first to break away from his older brother and the only Belizean cyclist, Joel Borland, who was able to hang onto their repeated attacks. That break-away occurred near mile 10 coming in. At about mile eight, Alejandro rode left Joel Borland, who held on to that position to cross the finish line solo about two minutes later.
The Padilla brothers started training for this race in the US in November and they have taken part in six races in preparation for this one. They go to Los Angeles in two weeks’ time for another race.
This year’s champion, Alejandro Padilla, said Joel Borland was a pretty strong rider and his only shortcoming was having two riders against him, the younger Padilla and himself.
Today’s champion also said that he has ridden this race several years and this is one of his favourite races to ride.
Coming fourth was Brandon Cattouse, who came in as part of a pelaton. He sprinted to the finish line to capture fourth position. Placing fifth was American and former Cross Country champion, William “Bill” Elliston.
If you're a patriot - this past Holy Saturday wasn't exactly a day that made your heart swell with pride. First, at midday, a Guatemalan won the cross country, easily, while his brother was second - worst of all? The Belizean they beat, Joel Borland is a young Coast Guard officer. And then it only got worse by 5:00 pm, a BDF Staff Sergeant had been ambushed by Guatemalan bandits in the Chiquibul and shot multiple times. By nightfall, the flag inside your heart was definitely flying at half mast? But how were two Guatemalan brothers able to beat everyone else, and to do it so easily? Well, our Codie Norales was out on the road on Saturday and he saw just how it unfolded. Kwame Scott has this report:...
Sign in on Princess Margaret Drive at the BTL Park started from 4:30 am - we see National under 23 Champion Giovanni Lovell in his Belize jersey.
2013 Champion Darnell Barrow, last year's second place finisher Scottie Weiss, defending 2015 champion Justin Williams and perennial contender Julio Padilla, two time Cross Country Champion Chris Harkey, veteran Fitzgerald Joseph, a blast from the late 80's and 2005 champion Bill Elliston.
At the line - past champions were called up to lead off the race which left from BTL Park in a rolling leadout at 10 minutes to 6:00.
The race featured five past champions Chris Harkey, Bill Elliston, Shane Vasquez, Darnell Barrow and of course, Justin Williams
The sound of car horns and sirens made the city know that the race was rolling - this year it featured 83 riders , 17 of them foreign comprising 8 Mexicans, 3 Guatemalans, 5 Americans and 1 Jamaican.
They would attempt to ride all the way from Belize City to Cayo and back, and less than 5:40:12 - which is the current record set in 2008 by American Ryan Bauman.
Onlookers with Belizeans flags gave the riders early morning encouragement
And rounding the Flag Monument roundabout - the 82 riders were cruising
At Leslie's imports you could hear the sound of the starting gun, and the riders bolted the first station prize at Cavetubing.com is easily taken by Mexican Luis Balam. With the southeast breeze in their backs, the early attacks were relentless.
Around mile 4 one of the Padilla brothers attacked but he's followed very closely by Tarique Flowers of Team Benny's and a few other riders.
Around Old Belize, three riders successfully separated themselves from the main pelothon for the first decisive breakaway of the day.
As we head toward Burdon Canal Bridge, the three riders are: Richard Santiago of Team Digicell, Guatemalan National Team Rider Alejandro Padilla and defending champion Justin Williams riding for team Belize Link Up.
Around mile seven, we see the sights and sounds of the main peloton of riders - the Belizean flag was hoisted high at mile 9; as the three leaders attempt to extend their lead by keeping a brisk pace and taking turns at the front.
At Hattieville, Richard Santiago claims the station Prize and some 40 seconds later, the main peloton led by Jessmar Guerra of Benny's.
Around mile 17, you can see Justin Williams putting his everything into this run - could it be a repeat of last year's historic ride?
At Rockville, Alejandro Padilla takes the station prize and the breakaway rolls on the chase group at this time is being led by Quinton Hamilton.
Around mile 28, Justin Williams refuels and hydrates. At La Democracia the gap is 58 seconds, and Padilla takes yet another station Prize.
Erwin Middleton, Kent Bob Gabourel and Team Cancun Mexican Godinez are tying to break away from the chase group.
Around mile 32, Padilla is taking refreshments from his service vehicle. Around mile 35, Herman Requena of SMART takes a pull and then moves over for Chris Harkey but then the attacks came and the breakaway has been caught
And now there's a new configuration with David Henderson of Team Benny's Attacking John Delong Of Starlight and yes we have a race.
Around mile 37, Julio Padilla attacked, Joel Borland and Brandon Cattouse were the only two that could hang onm and just like that we have our second significant breakaway. And in about 60 seconds, they had established a decisive 25 second gap.
And heading towards the Jaguar Paw cutoff, the three new leaders are Joel Borland of Team Digicel, Brandon Cattouse of Team C-Ray, and Guatemalan Julio Padilla.
Angel Tzib of Team Becol and Mark Staine of SMART are tying to make a move to catch up to the leaders.
Around Cotton Tree - the breakaway is now 43 seconds in front and at the Never Delay junction, Joel Borland sprints for and wins the thousand dollar station prize donated by BNE, and Padilla is not impressed, as a matter of fact, he's upset and counters with an attack of his own - after which the two exchange words.
But mercifully, the three leaders come back together and resume working together, slowing the pace while they accept service from the neutral support.
At Roaring Creek Brandon Cattouse takes the Prize and about a minute later the main peloton comes into view - still about 4 dozen riders in the hunt.
Leaving Teakettle, the two Belizean riders are sharing water as they attempt to extend their lead, heading across Brick Wall.
Powering towards Mount Hope, the officials say the gap is 39 seconds and the leaders push on.
At Mount Hope, Julio Padilla displays his skills in the hills as he paces the break towards Cayo.
Some 40 seconds later, Ron Vasquez, Kent Bob Gabourel and a Mexican Rider follow
And then comes the main pelothon led by Scotty Weiss, Oscar Quiroz and Justin Williams.
At Cayo, the halfway point Columbus Park San Ignacio, Julio Padilla is the first riding across the Hawkesworth Bridge followed by Joel Borland and Brandon Cattouse.
And less than a minute later, a group of four led by Bill Elliston, Jesus Godinez, Nissan Arana and Alejandro Padilla are trying to catch up with the leaders.
After them Angel Tzib is trying to make a move, and here comes the main group of riders - about 55 of them - as they whip around the park to the ovation of optimistic onlookers.
At "Go-Slow" we caught up with the Padilla Brothers just after stopping to answer nature's call - trying to catch up to the leaders - who are now 6 men strong. They have no problem doing that and go straight on the pace.
With the lead now being 1:35 and the breakaway 6 men strong, and it features the Guatemalan Padilla Brothers, Julio and Alejandro, Brandon Cattouse, Joel Borland, Nissan Arana and Bill Elliston.
Coming around Brick Wall, Nissan Arana of Westrac Alliance leads the breakaway of 6. Heading towards Camalote, the Guatemalans appear to be dictating the pace, with Alejandro Padilla goes into his aerodynamic descent position at the Belmopan roundabout, the breakaway of 6 is led by 2005 Cross Country Champion, American William Bill Elliston.
Some two and a half minutes later, Belize's National Under 23 Champion Giovanni Lovell is attempting to bridge the gap to the lead group on a suicidal solo run.
Another two minutes behind him is Liam Stewart, Ron Vasquez and Mexican Luis Alberto Balam are making a move.
Another two minutes later, the main peloton appears to be moving with a sense of urgency, but they are as many as 6 minutes behind.
Around mile 46, the defending cross country champion Justin Williams attempts to take up the challenge to lead the chase, but he seems to be getting absolutely no assistance.
Back at the front, around Cotton Tree, the 6 man breakaway pushes on towards Belize City featuring Alejandro Padilla, Brandon Cattouse, Nissan Arana, Joel Borland, Julio Padilla and Bill Elliston all working on cohesion.
Around Jaguar Paw, the work that the six man breakaway is putting in is starting to pay off, as the gap is now 5 minutes 25 seconds.
Julio Padilla has to use his skills to get back with the main pack after briefly falling back for refreshments, but around mile 29 there is a new configuration, the Padilla brothers attacked and only Joel Borland could hang on - leaving Nissan Arana, Bill Elliston and Brandon Cattouse in the dust.
And now we see the lead trio, two Guatemalans and one Belizean driving unto Belize City - the hopes of a nation resting upon the 21 year old's slender shoulders Joel Borland won the KREM New Year's Day Cycling Classic and was second in the Digicel Valentine Tour.
Meanwhile the Padilla Brothers - Julio finished this race sixth in 2013, while Alejandro finished 20th in 2013 and second in 2014. In 2013, had it not been for mechanical difficulties within the last few meters, Alejandro Padilla was well on his way to winning the cross country.
As we head towards Belize City, we see three riders with two different flags working together - continuous hydration is a must.
The heat is on and they face a strong headwind from the southeast.
At Rockville, the three are still together and Julio Padilla takes the prize.
As we head towards Hattieville the trio have established a two minute 15 second lead between themselves and the other 3.
At Hattieville, the lead trio continues to roll and it's beginning to look more and more like the winner would emerge from this group.
Now, in any sporting contest - two-on-one always results in advantage to the team with the majority - and, out here on the western highway, the Padillas had Joel Borland in a cycling sandwich.
And at mile 10, they seized on that advantage, with Alejandro attacking first, forcing Joel unto the pace, Julio Padilla then attacked Borland - who, weakened by having to stay on the pace, answered, or at least tried to, but it was too much for the lone Belizean rider.
Out front, the Padillas, kept up the cadence, two brothers with their eyes on Belize's richest sporting prize.
The onlookers were mute as the leaders passed through the mile 8 community to deafening silence.
But the green socks and the "Guatemala" logo emblazoned across their thighs communicated carefree effortlessness.
At the Burdon Canal Bridge, the two riders appear to be fresh, even with 135 miles behind them.
At the Chetumal Street roundabout - the brothers showed no sign of letting up
And entering the city there is a scattering of applause, for fans who know they will have to wait some minutes before a Belizean rider appears.
Unto Princess Margaret Drive, today there would be no mechanical failure, no attacks, a coast to victory…
And the brothers passed the line with their hands held high, first and second place in the 88th cross country,
Joel Borland crossed one minute fifty eight seconds later - a valiant effort but not enough on this Holy Saturday.
Almost six minutes after Borland, there was a dramatic sprint for fourth where Brandon Cattouse bested Bill Elliston, Scotty Weis, Nissan Arana, and Belizeans Robert Stewart, Henry Moreira, and Ron Vasquez.
The Winners Take It All
And, right after the riders crossed the finish line, 7News was there to talk with the winners and the losers about how it went.
Joel Borland, the first Belizean to cross the finish line right after the Padilla Brothers, told us that he was outnumbered on the final attack:
Reporter "What can you say about today?"
Joel Borland, 3rd Place - 2016 Cross Country "Definitely hard. Definitely a lot of suffering, I could tell you that. I just to say thanks to the Belizean public, because with motivation even with the people who doesn't even know me "Belize, Belize. Borland, Borland." Thank you very much, because without them I wouldn't stick there as much. The Guatemalans just overpowered and out fast me. I have no excuse."
Reporter "At what point in the race did you figure it was going to be tough? Or you thought there was still a chance that you could beat them somehow?"
Joel Borland, 3rd Place - 2016 Cross Country "When it came down to the 3 of us, I was still telling myself 'it would be a miracle if I could beat these two, you know.' I kept telling myself that 'I could.' I was waiting for an attack and I kept working with them because I didn't want them to attack so early and it came."
Alejandro Padilla, 1st Place - 2016 Cross Country "Last week of February we had our first race. We've done 6 races up to know. So we got pretty decent leg speed and we are starting to get in shape. Next week we fly to California and we are racing a couple races there next weekend and then we have like 6 straight weekend of racing. So we are going well right now."
Julio Padilla, 2nd Place - 2016 Cross Country "First we need to make the break, so we start make the brake and in Cayo I saw him coming and so I waited for him and since then, like just trying to pace a little bit, trying to reach a bigger gap until we got to Hattieville, tried to make a move and it worked perfect."
Reporter "How do you feel about the performance of the Belizean riders in comparison with yourselves and what's your advice?"
Julio Padilla, 2nd Place - 2016 Cross Country "They are riding strong. I don't know his name, Borland. He is riding very strong. There are strong guys here. So I think they are doing pretty well."
Alejandro Padilla, 1st Place - 2016 Cross Country "He was just unfortunate that it was two of us against one. 2014, the same thing happened to me. It was the Mexicans and me and the Mexican beat me in the finish line. So that's how racing is. You need teammates out there as well. If you're outnumbered, especially with the way the wind was coming in today, pretty hard to go two against one."
Admiral John Borland, father of Joel Borland "We promise next year to make bigger, stronger and harder and we will go back to the drawing board. We go back into training and we got to make Belizeans proud in bringing home next year. We came close this year, but it wasn't out time."
Winner Alejandro Padilla took home six thousand dollars cash plus a bunch of trophies, as well as the coveted garland and other prizes. His brother Julio got three thousand dollars cash for his second place finish - while Joel Borland got two thousand dollars cash for third.
The Padilla brothers were 11 minutes slower than the 2008 record.
In total, about 45 riders finished out of the 82 that started. Foreign riders took four of the first 6 places.
Sports Monday: Guatemalan Wins the 2016 Cross Country Garland
Good evening, I’m James Adderley, this is sports Monday and I certainly hope that you had an enjoyable holiday.
Of course the entire nation was glued to the 88th running of the Annual Cross Country Cycle Classic the biggest one day opportune event in this nation we call Belize. Every village, every municipality, everywhere people lived the thrill of this 140 mile road race bubbled in evidence. As we pan the 84 riders making the bid for Holy Saturday glory we find 5 former champions lined up in front of the peloton – Shane Vasquez the 2000 champion, Darnell Barrow of 2013 fame, American Bill Elliston and back to back champion Chris Harkey who won in 2003 and 2004. Today’s competitors are chasing Bryan Baumaus record of 5 hours, 40 minutes and 11 seconds set in 2008. This athlete time has held up for 7 long years going and many wonder if it will be broken. So the search for the garland begins in earnest with a field deep in talent and splashing in colors.
17 miles into the race a 3 man breakaway commands the lead and these are not ordinary rabbits. Bill Elliston, Nissan Arana and Brandon Cattouse are elite riders even if making a move so early is throwing caution to the win. A new configuration emerges at Roaring Creek. The Guatemalan rider Julio Padilla Miranda leads Joel Borland and Brandon Cattouse rolling past mile 52. Chris Harkey leads the chase bunch some 47 seconds, off the pace and the field is deep enough to be confident of their ability to reel in the leader. At the half way mark inside San Ignacio Town, the Guatemalan Julio Padilla Miranda remains the lead figure with Joel Borland and Brandon Cattouse hanging on. Bill Elliston tries to bridge the gap with Nissan Arana and Alejandro Padilla, brother to the front funnier following Bill’s lead.
Julio Padilla opts for the solo flight on the way back through Roaring Creek. Rising Star Giovanni Lovell looks for a connection with the front runners unaided. Chris Harkey’s dream of 3rd title spurs him on but he does recognize it’s an uphill struggle. Behind him the chase group can only be described as disorganized. 29 miles away from the finish line the biggest move of the 2016 race was executed. These 3 riders rolling through Hattieville, 17 miles from tape time, had upped the ante shaking off those who refused to labor. Alejandro and Julio Padilla, the Guatemalan riders initiated the separation and only young Joel Borland was able to hold on. 50 seconds off the pace, Bill Elliston, Nissan Arana and Brandon Cattouse try to mount a challenge. Inside Belize City at the finish line the fans await the arrival of the front runners. They are aware that 2 Guatemalans are in the lead and their fervent prayer is that Joel Borland will rise to the occasion. Also the double team proves too much for the warrior Borland who for 139 miles gave it his all.
Alejandro and Julio Padilla Miranda finis 1st and second in uncontested fashion and we must say congratulations. The win is big and it’s theirs in a time of 5 hours, 51 minutes and 9 seconds some 10 minutes, 48 seconds off the record. About a minute and a half later the solitary figure of a brave warrior Joel Borland pedals in for 3rd place. The U-23 needed help but these was none and today his best wasn’t good enough to the rest and you put up quite a fight. The sprint for 4th place brought the excitement the fans were waiting for. Brandon Cattouse overtakes Bill Elliston on the outside while on the inside Nissan Arana makes his move.
Brandon Cattouse surges to the tape for the 4th place, forcing Bill Elliston in 5th, the American Socttie Wiess who was the runner up last year pull up 6th while Nissan Arana steps up to the 7th place. Robert Liam Stewart holds on for 8th place edging out Henry Morriera while Ron Vasquez comes from behind to zip past Angee Tzib for 10th. The big three on the podium, the Padilla brothers of the Guatemalan National Team and Joe Borland of Digicell 4G Elite Cycling team were deserving of their victory. The Champion Alejandro Padilla Miranda was already moving on to the next event. So 2016 is now history and the 1-2 win by the Guatemalan will be a powerful motivation for the local riders. The 89th edition of the Annual Cross Country Cycle Classic cometh and only the brave can take it.