Krem’s 22nd Annual New Year’s Day Cycling Classic kicked off this morning at 9 at the Belize-Mexico Border in Santa Elena, Corozal and if anything can describe this year’s race, it is the fulfillment of expectations: Expectations that it be different from last year when the winner was basically decided not too long into the race and a foreigner, Costa Rican Marco Salas took away the crown.
This year, a total of 68 riders participated in the Elite Category and unlike last year, there was much excitement, as there were sprints and challenges throughout the race. At the start, Geovanni Choto of Western Spirit, began moving away from the group and was followed closely by Byron Pope of Benny’s Megabites.
However, by mile 28, one rider, Marlon Castillo who has been the record holder in the 93-mile race, broke away from a pack of 7 with a lead of close to one minute. He held his ground for many miles, however, Byron Pope and Geovani Choto along with two others were working together to reduce the margin and, that they did. By the time they hit the junction of the Old Northern Highway, Marlon Castillo’s lead had been reduced to about 10 seconds only.
Shortly after the Lord’s Bank Cutoff, Geovanni Choto began breaking away, garnering a 15 to 30 second lead and then increased it to about a minute. And though there was an organized chase by Byron Pope, Giovanni’s lead was untouched and he rode across the finish line at the Corner of Mahogany Street and Central American Boulevard in Belize City, in 3 hours 43 minutes and 41 seconds. He was followed 29 seconds later by Byron Pope who took second place while Peter Choto came in third.
For the Juniors, out of 22 riders, it was Cayo Uprising’s Oscar Quiroz, Jr. who took the main prize.
As to the females, there were 6 participants including defending Champion Shalini Zabaneh. For the very first time, the females were allowed to ride their own race, separately from the Males Master’s race. They started at 10a.m. in Orange Walk.
Their competition was equally filled with much excitement despite the fact that the group remained together during much of the race. However, there were several attacks by Kaya Cattouse and Shalini Zabeneh as well as from 18 year old Patricia Chavarria and Gabrielle Lovel at some points.
Kaya insisted that the separation from the males played an important role in her win.
Despite inclement weather along much of the race, it was a smooth cycling classic.
The first prize for the Elite males is 2 thousand dollars, a round trip ticket to the US and a bull valued at 5 hundred dollars. Second prize is 1 thousand 5 hundred dollars.
For the females, the first prize winner takes home 5 hundred dollars while the second place winner receives 3 hundred dollars.
In the junior category, the first prize winner will take home 5 hundred dollars.