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Is SMART Zoom Cycling Team Ready for Belmopan?

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Is the SMART Zoom Cycling team ready for its signature race, the 34th edition of the Belmopan Classic? The short answer from team manager Earl Theus is, YES! Last year, the team was well represented in the final classification for the Belmopan Classic with Herman Requena (BIZ) finishing second overall and Julio Padilla-Miranda (GUA) finishing sixth. In addition to the two top ten finishers they also had Giovanni Leslie 12th and Darnell Barrow 14th making four riders from their seven man team finishing with respectable results.

This year, the team has been completely restructured. The 2013 Cross Country Champion Darnell Barrow is still on the team along with Patrick Bennett but Giovanni Leslie has been reunited with Santino’s, Herman Requena is racing in the US and Quinton Hamilton is also no longer with the team. Additionally, the Guatemalan brothers of Julio and Alejandro Padilla-Miranda will be unavailable due to other commitments. We were unable to confirm if the team will employ other internationals.

Theus, however, was unfazed by the changes this year and expressed extreme confidence in his roster pointing out that they have four riders capable of taking this race; the aforementioned Darnell Barrow, Henry Moreira, David Henderson and Angel Tzib. He also acknowledges quality supporting riders in Patrick Bennett and Mark Staine.

Perhaps his argument is encouraged by the 2015 results thus far. The team had three top 10 finishers in the Krem New Year’s Day Classic; Angel Tzib (4th), David Henderson (7th), and Henry Moreira (10th). The guys listed finished as the 2nd, 4th, and 7th Belizeans in that race. Darnell Barrow was just outside the top 10 at the 13 spot. In the Valentine Mini Tour Darnell Barrow was the only top 10 finisher in the 10th spot and he finished 7th in the road race while Henry Moreira finished 10th, Angel Tzib 15th and David Henderson 17th. While not pleased with those results, Theus cited errors of focus as opposed to fitness for the unsatisfactory road race finish. “When the break took place after Belmopan, we did not react in time”, said Theus. “With the caliber of riders in that break, the slow reaction led to an unproductive chase effort; a mistake we cannot afford to make in the Belmopan Classic.”

Theus continued, “This race [Belmopan Classic] usually breaks up early after Hattieville so we have to catch the break when it happens because the breakaways usually produce the winner of this race”. Such was the case last year when Herman Requena and eventual winner Ignacio Prado (MEX) of Benny’s Megabytes went on a run after mile 21 heading to Belmopan. Requena recounted that he went for a station prize at mile 21 and just kept going. Prado was able to bridge across and Requena said they worked together to stay ahead. After being caught about 10 miles away from the finish, the duo attacked again but it was Prado’s decisive move about four miles out that propelled him to finish and Requena settle for second. Theus explained, “Some of the foreign riders have more training and experience but they are still human and we have to capitalize on their mistakes, although they rarely make mistakes.”

Theus concluded by saying that we all line up to win and anything can happen in a race. “Last year Padilla [Alejandro] got sick during the race with stomach issues, throwing up even, and we were expecting a good result from him; instead he didn’t finish, his brother Julio finished well [6th] and Hijo [Herman Requena] won”, recalled Theus. Alejandro Padilla-Miranda returned to finish second in the ensuing Cross Country Classic. Theus did not point to a specific rider for Sunday’s race, but with a quality roster, the SMART Zoom Cycling Team is sure to be on everyone’s radar.

About Isaac Rhys

Isaac Rhys is the Managing Editor at cyclebiz.com. Based in the Belize, he started Cyclebiz in 2015 intent on attracting more attention to local bike races and its participants.

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