Santino’s cycling team swept all top three places as well as fifth place in the 23rd annual KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic held under the auspices of the Belize Cycling association on the Philip Goldson Highway on Tuesday, January 1.
David Henderson Jr crossed the finish line first with team mate Gregory Lovell hard on his wheel. Henderson clocked in at four hours and five minutes on his 93-mile ride from the Corozal Free Zone at the northern border to Belize Cit.
Lovell claimed the $1,500 second prize and trophy, but they came no where near equalling the record time of three hours and 29 minutes, 55 seconds set by their team mate Marlon Castillo in 2009.
Teammate Darnell Barrow crossed the finish line 20 seconds later to win the $1,000 third prize and a trophy; while the Mexican rider, Donizetti Aburto-Vasquez of the Depredadores team of Chetumal, Quintana Roo, winner of the 2012 Orange Walk bypass criteria, finished eight seconds late. He claimed the $500 fourth prize.
Marlon Castillo took home the $350 fifth prize.
Mark Staine of the Benny’s Megabytes team won the $275 sixth prize, while Giovanni Choto of the Belikin Western Spirits team took home the $200 seventh prize. Mexican rider Juan Yapur, riding unattached, claimed the $175 eighth prize, he was also the first Masters rider to finish.
National road champion Byron Pope of Benny’s Megabytes led the fourth chase group in four hours nine minutes and 12 seconds to win the $150 ninth prize while his teammate, Jairo Campos, won the $100 prize to round out the top 10.
Jose Choto of the Belikin Western Spirits was 11th to win a $75 prize. H e was also the second Master to come in, while Mexican rider Manuel Ayala-Balam of the Depredadores team won $75 for 12th place.
Nissan Arana of the D&C team was 13th, Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden, riding unattached was 14th and Leroy Cassasola of the Santino’s team was 15th, each winning a $50 prize.
The next five riders were also in the money for a $25 prize each. Ernest “Jawmeighan” Meighan finised 16th, Eduardo Adrian Lada Cocom Balam and Julio Dzul of the Depredadores 17th and 18th, Roger Troyer of the Belikin Western Spirits – 19th and Herman “Hejo” Requeña of Benny’s Megabytes completed the top 20.
Some 59 riders had suited up for the start of the 93-mile ride. Young Daniel Choto won the first $150 station prize from the Northern Tire Zone. Allen Castillo of Benny’s Megabytes took the next prize in San Joaquin while Erwin Middleton of Capital City Cycling Team took over the lead briefly in San Roman to win a $500 prize from Freetown Drug Store .
Cross country champion Shane Vasquez of the Belikin Western Spirits took over the lead to win a DVD player in Louisville, and he and Herman Requeña led a two-man breakaway heading for Orange Walk. They were riding at a blistering 32 miles per hour (Tour de France riders average 25 mph), but they were soon joined by Gregory Lovell and Nissan Arana, opening up a 30-second lead on the main peloton.
Then Donizetti Vasquez, Ernest “Jawmeighan” Meighan, Jairo Campos and Panamanian import Christian McNish of the Smart cycling team joined the lead group, but it would be Ernest Meighan to win the sprint over Lovell and Requeña for the big $1,000 prize offered by Hon. Johnny Briceño and Jaime Briceño at the Shell one-stop gas station in Orange Walk.
Giovanni Choto, Mark Staine, Quinton Hamilton and Allen Castillo also began to reel in the lead riders as Jairo Campos won the $300 prize and a bull from Cuello’s Distillery at the Tower Hill bridge. Byron Pope took over the lead in Carmelita village to win a Seven Seas package from Santiago Castillo Limited. and Mark Staine took the next $100 station prize at mile 35.
At this point, Marlon Castillo and Giovanni Lovell joined Donizetti Vasquez and a trio of Santino’s riders: Lovell, Henderson and Barrow in a six-man breakaway that would run all the way to the city.
Henderson took the lead to win a $200 prize from Eustest Dawson at the Crooked Tree junction along with $50 gas from Brown’s Butane and a $50 prize from Waight and Associates. He also won a gift certificate for two free eye exams from Dr. Amin Hegar and a $25 tray of chicken from Pratt’s Fried chicken at mile 23 1⁄4.
Greg Lovell surged ahead at the junction with the Old Northern highway in Sand Hill to win a $822.50 package from Maruba Resort and Spa.
Santino’s trio continued to share the prizes as Darnell Barrow won a $25 prize from Gongas at mile 16; then Henderson won a $200 prize from Arthur Saldivar at Maxboro and a $100 sheep from Hon. Edmund Castro at the Burrell Boom junction. He also won 5 cubic yards of sand and gravel from Cattouse Trucking at mile 14.
Marlon Castillo took over the pace to win a sheep from Mark Velasquez at mile 13 1⁄2 and a $200 prize from Jaime Price Piling at mile 13. Greg Lovell won a $150 prize form Delmart Hardware at the Our Lady of the Way speed bump.
Henderson remained on pace from there on to win five gallons of gas at the SHELL gas station in Ladyville and more than $1,900 for sweeping the next 13 station prizes on his way to the finish line.