By: William G. Ysaguirre, Freelance Writer
Foreign riders dominated the top seven places of the 86th Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic today, with Mexican rider Juan Pablo Magallanes of Benny’s Megabytes Team winning in five hours 45 minutes and three seconds. Magallanes finished second last year to Darnell Barrowr, and this year he outsprinted Guatemalan rider Alejandro Miranda Padilla of the SMART team at the finish line in front of the BTL Park in Belize City.
Magallanes won the $6,000 first prize, the winner’s garland of roses from Florasol and no less than eight trophies: from Digicell, the Elston Kerr Cup, the Jeffery O’Brien family, the Altreith Smith family, Ludrick “Buno” Smith Memorial, the Green family of Los Angeles trophy, the Donald Matura family trophy and the Norman Ashford Gillett trophy. He also won a $400 shopping spree at Mirage, a return ticket to the USA from United Airlines, a return ticket from Maya Island Air, a bull from Cuello’s Distillery, a two-night stay at Barrier Reef Lodge and a weekend’s stay for two at Captain Morgan’s Retreat, both in San Pedro Town, $250 from LC Distributors and an MP4 player from Go Wireless.
Alejandro Miranda Padilla finished three seconds later to claim the $3,000 second prize and a trophy from the Belize Bank, a return ticket to the USA from United Airlines, an overnight stay at the Magic Island Resort in Caye Caulker, a return ticket from Maya Island Air, and the Altreith Smith Memorial plaque.
Mexican rider Florencio Ramos of the Predators team, the Belizean affiliate of the Depredadores team of Chetumal, Quintana Roo, won the $2,000 third prize and a trophy from Belize Electricity Ltd; as well as an overnight stay at the Barefoot Caribe in Caye Caulker, and a return ticket from Maya Island Air.
David Santos of the Bel-Cal team from California, USA won the $1,000 fourth prize and a trophy from Atlantic Bank, while Magallanes’ teammate Hector Hugo Rangel won the $800 fifth prize and a trophy from Barrow and Company.
Alejandro’s brother, Julio Miranda Padilla, also of the SMART team, led a second group of three riders in some 40 seconds after his brother, to win the $600 sixth prize and a trophy from Bowen & Bowen Ltd. Scottie Weisse of the Hincapie Lampierre team of the USA was hard on his wheel to win the $400 seventh prize and a trophy, offered by Belize Sugar Industries.
Marlon Castillo of the Belize Telemedia team was the first Belizean, finishing in 5:45:50, to claim the $300 eighth prize from Belize Maintenance Ltd, while his teammates Giovanni and Gregory Lovell rode in four minutes later to take the ninth and 10th places. Giovanni won a $200 prize while his brother Greg won a $150 prize from the Belize City Council.
Cory Williams of Bel-Cal and Weisse’s teammate Isaac Enderline rode in 5:50:28 to take the 11th and 12th places, each winning a $100 prize.
The race began with a slow ride out from the BTL Park down the marine parade and into Freetown Road, over the Belcan bridge and along the Central American Boulevard into Cemetery Road. The race did not begin in earnest until the peloton rolled up to the starting line by Leslie’s Imports on the George Price Highway. The 2012 Cross Country champion, Geovanni Choto of the C-Ray Road Addikz team took up the pace, jumping out solo to win over $1,400 as he swept all the station prizes to mile 19 and opening up a lead of a minute and 22 seconds.
The Benny’s Megabytes team soon mounted a challenge, with Magallanes and David Henderson, Jr., leading a four-man chase group that included C-Ray’s Raphael Choto and Ramos, and by mile 24 after Rockville, they had caught Geovanni.
This five-man breakaway continued working together, alternating on the pace all the way to Belmopan. Meanwhile a chase group of 14 riders had broken away from the main peloton led by a trio of riders from the SMART team: Quinton “Baddest” Hamilton and the Miranda Padilla brothers, Henderline and his Hincapie teammate – two time Cross Country champion Chris Harkey, Santos, Rangel and Joel Borland of Belize Telemedia.
The lead five were still together leaving Roaring Creek, but by Camalote, Magallanes and Ramos had broken away and soon opened up a three minute gap as they worked together, alternating the lead as they rolled through the Cayo hills, with Ramos winning the station prizes at Esperanza. They reached the half way point at the Coronation Park in San Ignacio, and had returned to the Carillo Puerto Avenue in Santa Elena before the chase group had reached it.
The three Belizean riders were soon caught by the SMART and Hincapie riders and Borland, but Hamilton and Raphael Choto fell off the pace to the rear of the group, and eventually a six man breakaway of Harkey, Henderline, the Padilla brothers, Rangel and Santos left behind the Belizean riders, who were now led by Borland, with Giovanni Choto, Henderson, Richard Santiago, Hamilton and Raphael Choto trailing.
A light rain cooled the riders as they returned to the city, but many fell casualty to a big spill in the main peloton at mile 40. Notably Byron Pope of Benny’s Megabytes and Marlon Castillo of Telemedia avoided the spill. Rangel also survived the spill, and they led the chase group who closed in the leaders.
Rangel successfully bridged the gap to the lead duo of Mexicans, and Rangel then broke away from his countrymen on a solo ride to the city, taking a $1,000 station prize at Mahogany Heights and opening up a two-minute gap of over a mile on his nearest rivals. Rangel continued on the pace as he swept the $1,500 prize at the mile 24 sanitary land fill and a $500 prize at Rockville, and another $5,000 prize offered by RJB construction at the mile 12 and a half.
David Santos, Ramos and Magallanes caught Rangel as they approached the bridge across the Bordon Canal where Magallanes took the station prize. Magallanes then led a three-man breakaway, including Padilla and Ramos. This trio alternated winning the remaining station prizes, with Ramos taking the $1,500 prize offered by Solid Waste management at the mile 3 garbage transfer station.
Santos and Rangel led the five man breakaway as they turned on to the Marine Parade with Miranda third, Magallanes fourth and Ramos fifth, before the final sprint to the finish.