And while regular folks are hoping for peace and love, elite cyclists want victory in 2019!
Tonight, 80 of them, including 68 Belizeans, are preparing for tomorrow morning, when they will take on 95 miles of open road for 29th running of the Krem New Years Day Cycling classic.
They'll racing from the Santa Elena Border in Corozal, all the way to Central American Boulevard in Belize City. Race promoter Kwame Scott told us why it will be full of exciting sprints:
Kwame Scott. Race Promoter "This race is second to only to the Cross Country in terms of prestige. It is matching the Cross Country in terms of the purse. That's what makes it extra big. The race tomorrow will feature no less than not 8, but 9 - $1,000 prizes along the route, along with other station prizes. Those are the big ones that stand out that can make the race change. This race features 80 riders. It travels from the border to the boulevard. The 80 riders include 10 Mexicans, 4 Americans and a Guyanese along with 68 Belizeans. They are split up into categories; Elite Master, U-23 gathered there in that 80. Simultaneously there will be a female event that starts in Orange Walk at the town board and travels all the way to Belize City finishing at the boulevard also and then there is the junior and the youths who will be traveling the same route from Orange Walk Town Board to Belize City."
"Riders to look at. We must keep our eyes and ears tuned to the defending champion Geovanni Lovell of Team Digicell. His teammates Ernest Bradley and Justin Chavarria Jr., Brandon Morgan are also very good candidates. Then from Team Smart there is Oscar Quiroz, Brandon Cattouse, Henry Moreira. Team Benny's features Byron Pope, Tarique Flowers and they've just added Ron Vasquez, who is the 2017 champion. Team Westrac Alliance features Nissan Arana and Keiron Robateau, along with Shane Jones and Angel Tzib."
"The brand new Recino's Import crew features all the Chotos'; Geovannnie Choto, Rafael Choto, Peter Choto, Jose Choto along with some other riders and there is the Clear the Land team that features Richard Santiago and the Castro brothers and a couple other riders and I believe that the foreigners are definitely going to make some difference in the race. So we must mentioned last year second place finisher, American John Delong, last year's 5th place finisher Mr. Vasquez, Rudy Rincon who is no stranger to cycling circles in Belize Yahir Jimenez and quite a few other riders."
"So it should be a very interesting ride come the 29 running of the KREM New Year's Day Cycling Classic."
It's a New Year's tradition in its 29th year: the Krem Radio New Year's Day Cycling Classic. It's the Strat of the racing season leading up to the Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. And, maybe because of this - and the fact that a large part of the field isn't in top form, the 96 mile race from Corozal to Belize City has seen lots of blowout wins. This year was no different, but there was a wrinkle in the script when a veteran rider snuck up and stole victory from two contenders. Codie Norales was out on the road and Jules Vasquez has the story:
DeLong finished in three hours fifty two minutes. In total 44 of the 83 riders finished.
Was A Hard Road On New Year’s Day
And after the race DeLong spoke about his sneaky strategy to overtake Travis Clayton and Nissan Arana near Maxboro and never look back:..
The first place winner took home a Chas price of $2,500 dollars and a round trip ticket to the US.
Pedal by Pedal of the KREM New Year’s Cycling Classic from within the Eye of the Storm…
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.