And another sign that the New Year is surely here, is the day's trademark race: the KREM New Year's Day Cycling Classic.
Today Kwame Scott stopped by and gave us a preview of the race:
Kwame Scott, New Year's Day Cycling Classic Race Promoter "What we are expecting this year. There are three races, almost all in one. The elite races feature three categories. It is the elite, masters, and masters 45. They ride from the border to the boulevard. The females will be racing from Orange Walk to Belize City and the juniors and youths will also race from Orange Walk to Belize City."
"We are expecting just about 65 to 70 participants in the elite race which will feature some Mexicans and a couple Americans along with the Belizeans. We are expecting 25 to 30 junior riders, and 9 or 10 female riders."
"One of the things that make this race so very interesting and so fast is that along the route there are seven one thousand dollar station prizes along the route so riders will be going out early and saving to counter these prizes to get a thousand dollars crossing one particular line. At the finish line the winner gets $2500 for the elite along with a round trip ticket to anywhere American Airlines flies. The first female gets $1000 and the first junior gets $1000."
The females and juniors begin their race at 9:30 am in Orange Walk while the Elite race begins at 9 am at the Border.
After the race, Lovell and the other top finishers spoke to the race announcer. the champ says he held his patience until the finish line:
In the Female race, Alicia Thompson finished first and became a four-time Champion, second was Kaya Cattouse and third was Miguenela Lopez from Merida. In the male junior race, Shawn Armstrong was first and Eric Heusner was second.
A New Winner On New Year’s Day
The KREM New Year's Day cycling Classic had its 28th running on Monday. Our Codie Norales followed the 70 plus riders from Corozal and stayed with them throughout the 96 mile race for more than ten thousand dollars in station prizes as well as one of the most coveted crowns in cycling.
Kwame Scott has the report:
Third place finisher for 2017, Giuovanni Lovell from Team Digicell was among the first to sign in. Ernest Bradley, the Son of two time cross country champion Ernest Meighan was also Team Benny's was also there. Oscar Quiroz from Team Smart was also amongst the ones to watch Nissan Arana and the current national road champion of Belize was there.
Brandon Cattouse, last year's second place finisher in this race was up front. Master Class rider, Isiah Willacey was also there. And the defending champion Ron Vasquez, the man who had all eyes on him.
And, at 9:00 sharp 70 riders left off form the northern border headed to the Boulevard in Belize City. In the early going, the pace is exceedingly high as the riders are aided by a semi-tailwind. All of the big names remain intact, including 9 Mexicans.
Did I mention that blistering pace in the early going? The riders kept it at a punishing 30+ miles per hour.
As we enter Corozal Town, the riders are pretty much still all together - always a beautiful view was they whip around the roundabout.
As we leave the town of Corozal - the race pace remains torrid and consistent at 30+ miles per hour. Approaching San Joaquin, Brandon Cattouse, Nissan aran and a Mexican are trying to establish a breakaway.
A few miles later, the three have been caught and now we see Tariq Flowers of Benny's Megabytes attacking.
At Libertad junction, Shane Jones of Westrac Alliance is leading the group, as they make the 90 degree turn headed for the city.
As the race heads to Orange Walk, we roll through the heart of the sugar belt, with the peloton still intact. As we inch our way towards Orange Walk, a Mexican rider along with American John De Long and Oscar Quiroz of Team SMART are attempting to escape, they would soon be joined by another Mexican Donicetti Vasquez.
A few miles later, the four riders are caught and the attacking and counter-attacking continue and just like that, Mexican Donicetti Vasquez has been able to escape and is now on a solo flight. He is being chased by Carlos Jimenez, a Mexican, who is being chased by Richard Santiago and another Mexican - followed by the entire peloton.
And as he rolled through Orange Walk, Donicetti salutes the crowd as he wins one thousand dollars, donated by John and Jaime Briceno. But, only 35 seconds behind him, Joshua Fuller from Team SMART and the rest of the remaining riders are in hot pursuit.
As we leave Orange Walk, Yayir Godinez, Mexican hailing from Cancun along with Phillip Leslie from Team SMART, Nissan Arana of Westrac, and unattached rider Herman Requena are trying to establish a breakaway.
But 40 seconds behind the chase is on led by Giovanni Choto and Brandon Cattouse. At mile 35, Phillip Leslie of TEAM SMART wins the station prize and the chase group which is the main peloton is in hot pursuit, but quite notably, what was once 70 riders, has dwindled to half that size.
As we roll through Biscayne, Reys Coache Mexican from Quintana Roo has broken clear and is attempting to run away. The timekeeper says he enjoys a 45 second lead.
Meanwhile, Mr. Coache appears to be giving it all he's got - and he looks good, so far. As we toll past Maskall junction, Mexican Reys Coache wins himself one thousand Belize dollars, donated by the Honourable Edmond Castro, the timekeepers say that his lead is 35 seconds.
The chase at this time - strangely enough - is led by not one but two Mexicans followed by Liam Stewart and the rest of the group.
Rolling through Sandhill, the Mexican rider appears to be struggling but still enjoys a 29 second lead. As we pass the Burrell Boom junction, Coache is still in the lead - but the lead is now down to 20 seconds.
Somewhere around mil 12, the Mexican is finally caught by a group of about 25 riders. As we head towards Ladyville Masters Rider, Liam Stewart is on the pace.
As we pass the Lord's Bank junction, verteran rider Quinton Hamilton launches an attack, he is followed very closely by young Tariq Leslie. As we head out of Ladyville, Giovanni Lovell launches an attack followed very closely by Oscar Quiroz.
Passing the airport junction, Mexican Donicetti Vasquez steps on the gas, only 7 riders can hang on, these are Liam Stewart, Nissan Arana, Giovanni Lovell, Oscar Quiroz, John DeLong, Ernest Bradley and Quinton Hamilton.
So as head towards the Haulover Bridge, it's beginning to look more and more like the winner will emerge from this lead group of eight that features American rider John DeLong, unattached riders Liam Stewart and Quinton Hamilton, Giovanni Lovell and Ernest Bradley of Team Digicell, Nissan Arana of team Westrac, Mexican Rider hailing from Merida, Yucatan Donicetti Vasquez, and Oscar Quiroz from Team Smart.
At the entrance to Haulover Bridge, young Ernest Bradley takes that prize while Liam Stewart is hot on his heels. As we head towards Belize City, the lead group of eight remains intact with veteran rider Liam Stewart doing most of the pacing.
Although the Phillip Goldson Highway is under repairs, the KREM Classic stuck to its original route and through the dust, we can see Liam Stewart is still on the pace.
As we speed towards the finish line on the Boulevard, the group of eight remains intact led by Liam Stewart and Quinton Hamilton.
And at the finish line - with eight riders contesting for first place, Giovanni Lovell, of team Digicell claims his first KREM New Year's day title - after last year's third place finish.