Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2022. 3:44 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias:
It doesn’t matter that he comes from a very small country, (Anguilla has a population of 15,242) Hasani Hennis today played big and won the 142-mile Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic at 05:50:26.
“A tough competition with all the Belizeans and the Guatemalans, and the American. In the end, it played out very well for me,” said Hennis who rides professionally for the US Team Miami Blazers along with Barbadian Joshua Kelly who didn’t finish the race.
Hennis sat for most of the race only moving upfront a couple of times but at the end, he played smart against American John DeLong (05:50:28) who did most of the work all day, bided his time, and attacked at the very last minute to take the Cross Country.
The Anguillian rider said he has ridden longer races than the Cross Country, that he panicked towards the end but kept his cool. He said he stayed close to DeLong, particularly after Byron Pope (05:51:43) and Marlon Castillo (05:51:48) got dropped, and that way he managed to win Belize’s most popular and coveted race in his first try.
Hennis said Belizean riders are really strong, but he couldn’t resist throwing a dart saying they would do well in 135-kilometer (85-mile) races.
American John DeLong did most of the work from the moment he caught G-Flow’s Shaun Codd and Westrac Alliance’s Eric Trapp just past Hattieville around Mile 20 on the way to Cayo. He along with Hennis, FAL’s Marlon Castillo and Westrac’s Byron Pope caught Codd and Trapp and were up front for over 120 miles in the race. A seven-man chase group which eventually dwindled to four and finally three, wasn’t able to catch up with them.
“Hasani was quick and he looked cool all day,” said DeLong after the race claiming he misjudged the finish line despite having checked it the day before.
As to the Belize competition, Delong, whose best finish had been third his first try in 2010, said Belizean riders need to get more scientific in training as opposed to just riding their bike every day.
“I tried my best to win the race, but those guys were at a different level,” said Marlon Castillo who finished fourth behind Pope.
Both were dropped by DeLong who attacked at around Mile 5. Only Hennis was able to keep the pace. Castillo and Pope were unable to respond and got left behind, though they did manage to keep the chase group of three led by defending champion Guatemalan Julio Padilla (05:54:14), and which included 501 Valvoline’s Oscar Quiroz (05:54:18), and G-Flow’s Giovanni Lovell (05:54:36), at bay. The three were able to get within two minutes and 26 seconds behind Castillo but remained at 3:48 behind Hennis. Still not a bad job considering that at one point in the race, the peloton fell to over nine minutes behind the leaders.
In the end, Padilla finished fifth, Quiroz sixth and Lovell seventh.
Joslyn Chavarria Junior (06:02:57) finished eighth, Nashen Ysaguirre (06:03:08) was ninth, and Richard Santiago (06:03:15) finished tenth.
Hennis became the first Caribbean rider to win the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic.
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