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May 2, 2003

Ernest Meighan wins Courts Cycling Classic

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While most of us were trying to hide out from the heat on Thursday, several men and women were hitting the Northern Highway competing in the 2003 Courts Labour Day Cycling Classic. Cameraman George Tillett and driver Stephen Ferguson got up early to capture the start, but I cheated and met them at the finish line.

Alan Auil, Race Commissionaire

“The race will ride on the right hand side of the road. I know we just had the cross country, we used to that wide road, we’re going back to we regular rules now.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

For twenty-five of Belize’s elite senior riders, the 2003 Courts Labour Day Cycling Classic was a chance to rebound from yet another blow to national pride in the Cross Country race.

(Ready! Whistle blows…gunshot)

But the pack’s persistence in weaving from one side of the road to the other forces road commissionaire Alan Auil to lay down the law again. In the end all riders would be fined ten dollars each for breaking the rule.

But back on their bikes, a four man contingent, which includes Jamaican Raydeen Lawson, Guatemalan Eduardo Uribe, and Belizeans Derrick Mahler and Herman Requeña, bust out of the crowd, trying to step up the pace.

There would be several more attempts at a breakaway but no one would dominate like Douglas Lamb, who was Han Solo for more than thirty miles as he sped towards Belize City.

Rough conditions, including intense heat, haze and the crooked edge of the highway kept the speedometer at twenty miles an hour and forced support crews to keep their cyclists cool.

But the persistent pelathon refuses to give up and they take down Dougie. And at Maxboro it’s Jawmeighan catching up to the five strong in the front.

But minutes later at the Boom junction, disaster strikes. A broken stem on Mateo Cruz’s bike sends him, Ariel Rosado and Jeffrey Zelaya into the dust…and service teams rushing to help.

Cruz would finish the race, but for now, the two survivors hold their own in the front, coming into the home stretch.

Then Ariel Rosado, injured but determined, makes his move and for a minute it looked like he would go all the way. But here’s how it went at the finish line: Ernest “Jawmeighan” Meighan of team Santino’s coming in at five hours, eighteen minutes and eight seconds.

Ernest Meighan, 2003 Courts Cycling Classic Winner

“We had it planned exactly to make Mateo win this race, because he hasn’t won a major race before. I talked to him, we were trying to set up for him to attack between Boom cut-off to town, but he got in a spill, so sorry, but I got to take it over and that’s when I take it over.”

“My lone presence in the breakaway, the guys they were already scared cause they know I’m a good sprinter, but at the end I didn’t have it real strong, but my lone presence, that’s when they’re really worrying about me, that when I used my experience over them; that’s how I won the race.”

So what happened to teammate Ariel Rosado?

Ariel Rosado

“When we finally caught up to Jawmeighan and the Jamaican, I launched an attack, broke away for a short while, I was caught, Jawmeighan launched an attack, broke away for a short while and he was caught, and I launched an attack again and I thought that was it, all of us thought I was going to make it to town, cause that’s my speciality, coming in solo. But right by Biltmore, my juice went dead, all my fuel ran out and I looked up and I saw Jeffrey bringing me back in, so I decided to ease up and leave it to Jawmeighan. It still worked to our advantage cause that’s the point, with me out in front and Jeffrey having to chase, it killed him out, giving Jawmeighan the advantage in the sprint. It worked out perfectly, he won, I finished fifth and it was a good day for us.”

Jamaican Raydeen Lawson was second, third, Cool Running’s Kareem Flowers, and fourth, Jeffrey Zelaya sponsored by Guinness Kulture Smiling Continental.

Last minute drama in the end stemmed from this box in move by Eduardo Uribe to Big Mike Lewis. Uribe was later disqualified under cycling regulation: 10.1.1 deviation from selected lane, which endangered another rider.

As for the women, after a quiet start in Orange Walk and despite some aggressive attacks from reigning champion Anamarie Bennett, the ladies refused to part ways, quickly reeling in any lone ranger.

A broken gear shifter sent Fiona Humes Gonzalez in at mile forty-four and as one official called it, this one would do down to the wire…

Violet Morrison, 2003 Female Champion

“Anamarie kept using her strategy cause she know that she can attack and attack and attack. But that will work in the hills. On the flat, all the females will still come along with you, so you probably have to do more attack to take them off. Well I know I have a better sprint over all the other females, so what I do is I try to work what I have over them.”

Janelle Chanona

“And you will use that same strategy come Mother’s Day next weekend?”

Violet Morrison

“Well next weekend I don’t know what the strategy will be, but I plan to be with whatever group that get away, I plan to be out there with that group there.”

Morrison finished in three hours, twenty-eight minutes and fourteen seconds with Amelita Knowles in second, and last year’s Labour Day champion, Anamarie Bennett, rounding out the top three.

In the junior division, Santino’s Chris Galvez took first place, Keegan Flowers of B.T.L. Fusion second and Domingo Lewis of M and M’s Engineering placed third.

Given the strong competition, the unbelievably intense heat, and the potential for injury around ever curve, these determined men and women earned bragging rights and nuff respect from this reporter.

The next race on the cycling calendar is the Mother’s Day Classic scheduled for May eleventh.








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