By William Ysaguirre
Byron Pope of the Benny’s Megabytes team won the Elite race of the 24th annual KREM New Year’s Day cycling classic from the Corozal Free Zone along the Philip Goldson Highway to the finish line at Mahogany Street in Belize City on Wednesday, January 1.
Pope broke no records as he clocked 3:48:11, when he rode into the city all alone, winning the race hands down, to claim the $2,000 first prize, a Smart cellphone from Speednet Communications, a round trip ticket to the U.S.A. from American Airlines and a trophy.
His teammate, Mexican rider Carlos Lopez, led a chase group of three across the finish line five seconds later to win the $1,500 second prize and a trophy, while last year’s junior sub-champion, Giovanni Lovell of the Belize Telemedia cycling team, now an Under-23 rider, rode in a second behind to win the $1,000 third prize and trophy.
Mexican rider Juan Yapur riding unattached, was another second behind to win the $500 fourth prize also winning a trophy as the first Masters. Herman “Hijo” Requeña of the Smart cycling team finished in 3:48:39 to win the $350 fifth prize.
The defending champion, David Henderson Jr. of the Benny’s Megabytes team, clocked 3:52;42 to win the $275 sixth prize, while Benny’s Megabytes other Mexican import, Jose Eduardo Anguiano Gonzalez, clocked 3:52;47 as he took the $200 seventh prize.
Mexican rider Manuel Ayala Balam of the Depredadores team from Chetumal, Quintana Roo, was hard on his wheel to win the $175 eighth prize, while Cross Country champion Darnell Barrow of the Smart team clocked 3:53;09 as he won the $150 ninth prize.
Gregory Lovell of the Telemedia team rounded out the top 10 to win a $100 prize. Raniel Sanchez of the Bel-Cal team took the $75.00 prize for 11th place also winning a trophy as the second Masters, while Jeovanie “Froggy” Leslie of the Smart team won a $75 prize for 12th place.
Philip Leslie riding unattached took the $50 prize for 13th place while Deezan Spence of the Western Spirit team also won $50 prize finishing 14th and Dwight Lopez of Bel-Cal won the $50 prize for 15th place, also placing third among the Masters.
Dean Middleton riding unattached pulled in 16th, Brandon Morgan of Benny’s Megabytes was 17th, Henry Moreira unattached was 18th, Roger Troyer of Western Spirits was 19th and Christian Lopez of the Smart team rounded out the top 20. The 16th to 20th place finishers each won a $25 prize.
Gregory Lovell had led in the first miles of the race, winning a $50 station prize from Belmont Gas at mile 86, before Herman Requeña surged to the fore to win $200 worth of fuel from Glen Godoy at UNO service station in Corozal Town.
Lovell’s teammate Joel Borland won the next prize in San Joaquin while Nissan Arana of the Depredadores team won the next prize in Louisville. Borland surged ahead to win the $1,000 prize at the Freetown Drugstore in San Roman, while Deezan Spence won the next $1,000 offered by Hon. John Briceño at the SHELL One Stop Station in Orange Walk Town.
Borland was on the pace again passing the Bowen & Bowen distributorship at the roundabout south of Orange Walk town where he won five cases of Belikin Beer, but Nissan Arana overtook him at the Tower Hill bridge when he won a young bull offered by Cuello’s distillery.
Gregory Lovell won the next $100 prize offered by Brothers Habet at mile 35, but by the Crooked Tree junction at mile 33, Carlos Lopez led a five man breakaway along with Pope, Yapur, Giovanni Lovell and Herman Requeña. Lopez won $275 in station prizes at Crooked Tree, and Yapur was working with him, winning the next two prizes at mile 23 ¼.
The breakaway’s lead on the main peloton grew from 30 seconds to almost two minutes; as Byron Pope took his turn on the pace to win the $1,000 station prize offered by Hon. Edmund Castro in Sand Hill at the mile 19 junction with old Northern Highway. Requeña took over the pace to win the next prize from Hon. Castro at the Maxboro junction, then Lopez took over the pace to win the $50 offered by Castro at the Burrel Boom junction.
Pope won a sheep offered by Mark Velasquez family at mile 13 ½ and a $1,000 prize sponsored by Kubuli beer at the distributorship in Ladyville. Giovanni Lovell won two tickets to San Pedro and $100 at the Haulover Bridge.
Lopez took over the pace to win over $500 in cash and other prizes as he swept nine station prizes from Haulover to the Belcan bridge, but took a wrong turn at the last roundabout.
Pope riding immediately behind, suffered no such confusion, and won some $275 in prizes as he rode over Belcan first to win the race.
Lopez corrected in time to finish second.
By William Ysaguirre