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Belize Medals At 2015 Caribbean Cycling Championships

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The 15th annual Caribbean Cycling Championships was held this weekend in Barbados. The Belizean female and male national cycling teams arrived on Friday (16th) afternoon and quickly settled in after unpacking and assembling their bikes.

The male team consisted of:
Brandon Cattouse
Joslyn Chavarria Jr.
Gregory Lovell
Byron Pope
Ron Vasquez

The female team:
Kaya Cattouse
Patricia Chavarria
Alicia Thompson

Saturday the 17th saw the running of the time trial championship event, which comprised a brutal course of hills over a distance of 23.2 miles for the male elite. Only a selected few riders from each country participated in this specialty event, while the other riders prepared for the main event on Sunday. Team Belize participated in the time trial event as Gregory Lovell, Joslyn Chavarria Jr., and Patricia Chavarria took to the course. However, the course proved to be too ruthless for them and they were unsuccessful in capturing a top position. Joshua Kelly of Barbados claimed gold in the male event, completing the course in a time of 50 minutes and 46 seconds. Katheryn Bertine of St. Kitts and Nevis captured gold in the female time trial, completing 14.9 miles in 35 minutes and 43 seconds.

The other Belizean riders prepared for the main event which was the road race on Sunday. They tested out the course, fueled their bodies with carbohydrates and electrolytes, and strategized different plans that they would execute on Sunday with a hope of podium finishes.

The course for the road race (main event) was the same for both the female and male race. The course entailed a circuit of 9 miles, of which the females had to complete five laps and the male had to complete 9 laps. Midway through the course the riders would have to climb a steep hill approximately one mile long. Some of the Belizean riders compared the hill to that of their local “three sisters”, “just that it was twice as long and it had a gradient similar to that of ‘Cement Hill’ on some of the sisters”. Many of the riders from various countries complained of the misleading race profiles that had been sent out weeks before the race, which only describes the hill as: “Max. Incline: 5.2%”. The max incline was in fact over 15%.

On Sunday the 18th, the female road race got underway to a fast start at 8:30am. The cruel attacks on the climb splintered the race into pieces. Tamiko Butler got away early and maintained her lead throughout the race thereby claiming gold. Belizean Kaya Cattouse and Alicia Thompson finished 10th and 12th respectively. Patricia Chavarria of Belize also completed the race.

The men elite road race started at 11:30am in the scorching heat of the Caribbean. The race started fast, and the attacks were vicious on the climb. Guadalupe, Martinique and Barbados dominated the front of the race in numbers with merciless attacks, pursuits and breakaways in the first 4 laps, while the remaining countries struggled to keep contact with the rigid pace controlled by these three counties. By lap two only two Belizean remained in the peloton: – Ron Vasquez and Joslyn Chavarria Jr, who were both struggling to keep contact with the peloton. By lap five, Joslyn Chavarria Jr. was the only Belizean in the peloton and surprisingly he was starting to look comfortable. He was no longer struggling towards the back of the peloton but had now moved to the front, in the top five riders in the peloton.

The leading group consisted of five riders, followed by a group of approximately ten riders, a third chase group of about three riders and then the peloton of about twenty riders of which Joslyn Chavarria Jr was in. Every lap the peloton was dwindling in numbers, as riders grew fatigue and unable to keep up with the rigid pace which the chase group had set. By lap 7 the peloton had splintered and Joslyn had maintained contact with the leading six riders in chase group number four. This chase group became larger in number as it caught all except seven riders ahead.

On the last lap after the seven leading riders had finished the race (Marloe Rodman of Jamaica claiming gold in the men’s elite), the main chase group was anticipated and the crowd waited eagerly to see who would claim the next three positions to round out the top ten. More importantly, one more chance of a podium finish was available, one more chance of claiming a glorious medal at the championships was available and this was for the U-23 position. In the distance, only two riders cleared the curve and the Belizeans eyes lit up when they saw that it was Joslyn and another rider. These two had broken away from the main group. Joslyn outsprinted Brian Babalonia of Puerto Rico to claim 8th place overall and 3rd place in the U-23 category. A podium finish! A medal at the Caribbean Championships.

Joslyn Chavarria Jr. rode a spectacular race, claiming the U-23 bronze medal for Belize in the 2015 Caribbean Cycling Championships. New talent discover; bronze medal conquered.

About Riis R. Cattouse

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