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Apr 22, 2014

Sports Monday highlights the 2014 Cross Country Cycling Classic

Good evening, I’m James Adderley and here’s the sporting news.


The 86th running of the Annual Cross Country resigned supreme on Holy Saturday as expected from the biggest one-day sporting spectacle in this beautiful Jewel of ours. A total of 105 riders participated of which 21 were foreigners; about 20% of the field. Among the teams incorporating foreign athletes were Benny’s Megabytes with 2, BelCal with 4 while Western Spirit Smart and Predators all had 2 each. Each of the 5 teams paid $2,500 for this privilege to the Dion Leslie led Cycling Federation of Belize. Escaping the fee were DEpredadores of Chetumal Mexico, Hencappi Lampierre which featured 2-time Champion, Chris Harkey, who benefitted from an official invitation. So did individual riders Raynell Sanchez, Cuban American and Mexican Manuel Yappur and Jamaican American, Anthony Taylor, who participates every year or at least most of the time. This adds up to 21 in start contrast to 14 who participated last year when Darnell Barrow edged out Juan Pablo Magallames for the garland and eight in 2012 when Giovanni Choto made that amazing solo flight to return the championship to Belize. And their off now in front of B.T.L. Park in a roll out that would see the race begin in earnest on the George Price Highway. At Hattieville, we catch a glimpse of the riders chasing Giovanni Choto who had eluded our cameras. Alejandro Padilla of Smart leads the chase, Allen Castillo of Benny’s is next, Phillip Leslie of Predators follows; Mark Staine of Megabytes and Gregg Lovell of B.T.L. is next and Ron Vasquez of Western Spirit. Of course, the lead is negligible as we pan the main pelathon stretched along the road; each rider looking for a vantage point from which to launch the attack that would devastate the competition while reeling in the 2012 champion.

Unfortunately folks, this is where our coverage ends until the finish. You see folks, after covering the Cross Country religiously from 1991, Channel 5 was banned by the Cycling Federation of Belize from every live coverage on the 2014 edition. In fact, for me it’s simply stunning that after covering every cross country since 1991 and every major and sometimes minor races during the year by this august body that we could be treated in such a fashion. A vote Friday night by the cycling executive had led to our demise. It’s an ugly decision reached by Dion Leslie’s executive as it literally destroys the harmonious relationship we thought we enjoyed with the Cycling Federation of Belize. For a moment back there, it reeked of extortion after; all in 2012, Channel 5gave them $5000 and in 2012 the overall 2nd prize and previous to that, cash prizes were made available and indeed valuable footage and extensive local programming were made just for this cycling event.

Nevertheless, disappointment aside, let’s head to the finish line and it’s Juan Magallames, a Mexican riding for Benny’s Megabytes crossing the line uncontested in 5 hrs 45 mins 3 seconds giving Benny’s Megabytes its first cross country win and we say congratulations. Megallames finished 2nd to Darnell Barrow last year so we must give him respect. Alejandro Padilla of Smart then pulled up 2nd, Florencio Ramos Torres of Predators took home 3rd place. Hector  Rangel who had gobbled up most of the prizes after mile 25 on the way in placed 4th by edging out American David Santos of Bel-Cal who rounds out the top 5. In the next sprint, Julio Mendez of Smart rode in 6th, forcing Scottie Weiss of Hincappi into 7th. Meanwhile, Marlon Castillo of B.T.L. became the 1st Belizean to cross the finish line at 8th. He was then followed by his teammates Giovanni Leslie and Gregg Lovell, two brothers who round out the top at 9th and 10th respectively. It must be noted that Telemedia was the only local team with riders in the top 10 which should give the other teams a lot to think about. For certain folks, the local teams were definitely overwhelmed by the large numbers of foreign talent in Saturday’s hunt for the garland. In the meantime, we hope time will heal all wounds from the 2014 Cross Country.

Turning to the football scene, mid-week play in the PLB closing season saw San Ignacio Edge Paradise Freedom Fighter 4-3; Belmopan Bandits blew out FC Belize 4-1 and Police United burned Verdes FC 1-zip. Over the weekend, police continued to roll doubling Belmopan Bandits 2-1 and the B.D.F. edge FC Belize 1-nil while Verdes FS and San Ignacio settled for a 1-1 tie. Looking to Wednesday night, police take on Paradise Freedom Fighters 7:30 p.m. in Toledo; San Ignacio United will host B.D.F. at 8:30 p.m. inside the Norman Broaster Stadium and on Thursday, FC Belize will be inside the MCC Grounds against Verdes. Week 13 comes up on the weekend…Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Belmopan Bandits will host San Ignacio and the Police visits Karl Ramos to face the B.D.F. while on Sunday, FC Belize goes to the Toledo Union Field to face Paradise Freedom Fighters at 3:30 p.m.

In basketball news, the NEBL returns to action this weekend. On Thursday, the Belmopan bandits face Corozal Heats at the UB Gym in a 9:00 p.m. start. While on Friday, Dangriga Warriors play host to the OW Running Rebels. On Saturday, at the Big Bird’s Isle, Belize Smart No Limit gets a visit from the Toledo Diplomats and in the biggie of the weekend, Cayo Western Ballaz will host the San Pedro Tigersharks in a battle royal for the league.


Jah over all, I’m James Adderley.

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