BELIZE CITY–When Mexican Hector Rangel crossed the finished line on New Year’s Day to win this year’s Krem New Year’s Cycling Classic, he was not the first foreigner to do so, but it was his first victory at this prestigious and prize-laden event.
The first foreigner to take the Krem crown was Miguel Perez in 2001, after Belizeans had swept the previous ten outings from the inception of the race in 1991. The 1991 winner was Michael Lewis; 1992- Francisco Flores; 1993 – Derrick Mahler; 1994 – Douglas Lamb; 1995 – Robert Mariano; 1996 – Nigel Matus; 1997 – Fred Usher; 1998 – Francisco Flores; 1999 – Ernest Meighan; and 2000 – Ariel Rosado.
After Miguel Perez in 2001, Belizeans took over again in 2002 with Barney Brown the winner; 2003 – Douglas Lamb; 2004 – Marlon Castillo; and 2005 – Michael Lewis.
Then the foreigners began to become more regular on the winner’s podium. In 2006, American Scottie Weiss won. Belize’s Shane Vasquez won in 2007; but it was another foreigner, Neo German Camacho Villegas winning in 2008. Belize’s Marlon Castillo won in 2009; but it was a foreigner, Carlos Hernandez with the victory in 2010, and another foreigner, Marco Salas winning in 2011.
We then had another short run of Belizean champions: 2012 – Geovanni Choto; 2013 – David Henderson, Jr.; 2014 – Byron Pope.
And now in 2015, Mexican Hector Rangel, riding for the local Benny’s Megabytes team, rode away with the top prize.
But in the 25 years running of the Krem New Year’s Classic, no individual cyclist, local or foreign, has yet won back-to-back in the Elite/Open race.
It has been done in the Female and Junior versions of the Krem Classic. Fiona Humes Gonzalez won the Female Krem Classic in both 2003 and 2004; and Shalini Zabaneh was twice back-to-back Female champion in 2010 and 2011, and again in 2013 and 2014. And in the Junior category, Tariq Flowers won in both 2013 and 2014, before moving up to the Elite level in 2015.
While the Krem Classic continues to be unique in this aspect, the Cattouse family came close to taking a double championship this year, as Yan Cattouse took the Junior crown, while older sister Kaya Cattouse finished 2nd in the Female category. Meanwhile, big brother Brandon Cattouse is a consistent contender in the Elites. Wouldn’t that be something, should they all have a very good day simultaneously, and take all three crowns home to the Cattouse farm?
This year’s female winner, Alicia Thompson, is now a two-time champion, though not back-to-back; but hers is a story of courage and perseverance. She had won way back in 2006, and, after taking time off to give birth to her son, Jaydon, she returned a few years later to work her way back into top contender form. Her achievement this year marks a nine-year gap since her first Krem championship, which has to make this one especially sweet for her, her family and many fans.
In case you missed it in our last (Tuesday) Wednesday issue, the top 3 finishers, by category, in the 25th Krem New Year’s Day Cycling Classic were:
Elite/Open – 1st Mexican Hector Rangel (Benny’s Megabytes); 2nd American David Santos (Bel-Cal); and 3rd Ron Vasquez (Western Spirit). Female – 1st Alicia Thompson (Belize Bank Swoosh); 2nd Kaya Cattouse (C-Ray); and 3rd Patricia Chavarria (BECOL). Junior – 1st Yan Cattouse (C-Ray); 2nd Kaydine Pinelo (Police); and 3rd Anthony Marin (Cabral/Marin). Masters – 1st Hector Rangel (MEX, Benny’s Megabytes); 2nd John Delong (USA, Starlight); and 3rd Henry Moreira (Smart). Masters Cat 4/5 – 1st Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden; 2nd Michael Dennison Lewis (Unattached); and 3rd George Abraham (Bel-Cal).
Question for the fans: There have been a few, but when last was there a back-to-back Cross Country champion?