The Elite Male riders left from the entrance of the Commercial Free Zone in Corozal District at 9:00 a.m. en route to the corner of Central American Boulevard and Mahogany Street in Belize City, a distance of about 90 miles. The Junior division, Female division, and Masters Category 4/5 Male riders all left from Orange Walk Town half an hour later.
After the sprint for a thousand-dollar prize at the Shell gas station in Orange Walk, Costa Rican riders Marco Salas and Juan Rojas, representing Belizean team Benny’s Megabytes, stepped away from the field and rode unchallenged to Belize City, opening as much as a 10 to 20 minute gap on the field.
The juniors finished their race at about 12:20 in the afternoon. The winner is Mexican Johnny Quintal of Team Depredadores of Mexico, who broke away around the Crooked Tree junction and rode alone to the City. Second place was taken by Belizean Giovanni Lovell of Team Indeco, while Austin Armstrong, the captain of Twin Towns Cycling Club of San Ignacio, held off the field for third place.
Shalini Zabaneh is female champion, defeating a field of 7 for her third title, while Freddy Iban of Mexico took top place in the Masters Category.
Salas as winner in the elite category will receive $2,000 cash, a DigiCell phone package from BTL and other prizes. Both junior and female champions receive $500 cash and a DigiCell phone package.
Salas told Kremandala’s Mose Hyde that this was the third time he had been to Belize, and that he and Rojas simply “established a rhythm to defeat the competition,” although he admitted that he was surprised at how handily they were able to defeat the field.
This is the second consecutive year a non-Belizean has won, after Carlos Manuel Hernandez of Mexico defeated the field last year.
The first Belizean across the line was third place winner Shane Vasquez, a former winner of the Classic. He finished some sixteen minutes after the Costa Ricans.
The Official Platinum Sponsors for this year’s KREM’s New Year’s Day Cycling Classic are Belize Telemedia Limited, Social Security Board and DigiCell while Oceana in Belize, American Airlines, Ministry of Sports and the Office of the Prime Minister are Official Sponsors.
Premier Sponsors meanwhile are Atlantic Bank Limited, Bowen and Bowen, Belize Water Services, Esso Standard Oil, the University of the West Indies Open Campus, Buddy Brown International, Hon. Cordel Hyde, Hon. Mark Espat, Hon. Johnny Briceño and Jaime Briceño.
Part Sponsors include First Caribbean International Bank, Bowen & Bowen, Texaco Boulevard Gas Station and Hon. Edmund Castro.
KREM extends special thanks as well to the Belize Cycling Association, the Belize Police Department, BERT and the Belize City Traffic Department.
Written by Aaron Humes