Posted: Friday, April 15, 2022. 8:50 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: 501 Valvoline’s Oscar Quiroz and G-Flow’s Giovanni Lovell are among the favourite Belizean riders to stand up to the foreign competition led by 2019 winner, Guatemalan Julio Padilla Miranda, in this year’s Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic organized by the Cycling Federation of Belize.
Seventy-eight riders will line-up at Digi Park at 5:50 am for the start of the 142-mile race from Belize City to San Ignacio and back.
The Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic is the most popular race in Belize dating back to 1928 when Elston Kerr won the initial ride.
Though the Belize fans respect any champ, Belizean or foreigner, it hurts them when a foreigner takes the garland. So, this year, they want revenge and they’ll be following the Cross Country from its start to its finish just before midday at the Digi Park on Newtown Barracks.
Lovell was fifth, the first Belizean in 2019, and Quiroz was 11th. But since then, they’ve been working on their form and competing internationally to improve their chances.
Oscar Quiroz led his team to a month’s training in the highlands of Guatemala in March to build endurance and improve the oxygen level in their blood to be able to compete better against the foreigners who come from higher lands and who compete professionally. Additionally, Quiroz, Lovell and other Belizean riders including Westrac Alliance’s Byron Pope and the Castro brothers, Wasani and Jafari, and G-Flow’s Henry Li competed in the US Criteriums earlier.
But we cannot count out 501 Valvoline’s Caribbean Junior Champion Derrick Chavarria, Joslyn Chavarria, and Brandon Cattouse, G-Flow’s Shaun Codd and Junior Champ Renan Codd, Westrac’s Angel Tzib, and Cayo Road Rage’s Richard Santiago and Goran Gabourel.
Looking at the rest of the field, 501 Valvoline also features Joshua Fuller, Mairon Muñoz, and Shamin Burns.
G-Flow is supported by Gregory Lovell, Tevin Chaplin, Jyven Gonzalez, and Gian Lino.
The Westrac Alliance Team also has in its ranks Eric Trapp, Carlton Robinson, Fernando Rosado, Keiron Robateau, and Shane Jones.
Also going for all the marbles is Team C-Town which features Dwayne Wade, Dwight Lopez, Kevin Gentle, Shervin Budna, Engelbert Smith, Brandon Morgan, and Kent ‘Bob’ Gabourel.
For their part FAL’s comprise Sherwin Roca, Ernest Bradley, Melvin Gillett, Claude Young, and Marlon Castillo.
M&M Engineering are led by Roque Matus and Allan Auil who’ve decided to make a comeback. They are supported by Carrol Devin Azueta, young Renan Matus, Willie Chan, Ryan Willoughby, Michael Wagner Sr, Preston Martinez, Phillip Burns, Tyrin Tasher, and Wendell Williams Jr.
Road Rage also includes Jose and Rafael Choto, Tariq Cano, Sherman Thomas, Wilhem Coye, Omar Cruz, and Brandon Guerra.
There’s the PMA Racing Team featuring Andrei Perez, Trevon Salazar, Phillip Ford, Mark Reid, Morton Bradley, and Denroy Langton, and Patrick Flowers.
According to the CFB, there are 11 unattached riders included Michael Lewis, winner of the 1992 edition, Nashen Ysaguirre, Fitzgerald ‘Palas’ Joseph, Colin Maheia, Kenroy ‘Smokes’ Gladden, George Abraham Jr., Hollis Baptist, Christopher Andrews, Philton Butler, Shayle Paredes, and Carlos Valdez.
On the foreigners’ side, the Guatemalans appear to be the toughest. Padilla will be lining up with José Canastuj, who was 3rd in 2019, and U23 rider Elí Sisimith under the Ópticas Deluxe banner.
John DeLong is the only American registered. DeLong rides for Team Skyline. But this year the Cross Country will feature two Caribbean riders: Joshua Kelly from Barbados and Hasani Hennis from Anguilla.
And finally, there is Luis Ávila Balám from Cancun, Mexico.
So, we wait for Saturday morning.
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