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Oscar Quiroz Jr Heads 2015 Belmopan Classic Start List

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Yesterday, The Cycling Federation of Belize published the start list for the 34th Annual Belmopan Classic sponsored by SMART. A quick review of the team rosters reveals that the podium will not be the same this year. Defending champion, Ignacio Prado (MEX), will not be returning for Benny’s Megabytes and second place finisher Herman Requena (BIZ), will also not be returning for SMART Zoom as he starts his first race tomorrow with his new team in New York, with whom he had signed a two year contract this January. With Prado out, Benny’s, known for strengthening their race rosters with quality internationals, enlisted Jose Mojica (CUB) fresh of his Tour of Cuba win last month. Only two other internationals appear on the start list; Guy East (USA) for Santino’s/Ride to Victory and Masters Rider, Jose Angel Robles Lopez (COL) for Western Spirit. Robles has been in the country since February when he rode for the Western Spirit Cycling Team in the Valentine Mini Tour last month where he placed sixth, two spots down from fourth place finisher; teammate Oscar Quiroz Jr. Quiroz rounded out the podium last year with a third place finish in the Belmopan Classic and is an obvious favorite this year as well.

We caught up with Quiroz to find out about his conditioning and his team going into tomorrow’s race. “As a team, we have put in our work, we are ready; as you know Western Spirit usually show up in the big classics”, stated Quiroz. “With the terrain and the breeze, we have trained in similar conditions which should put us in a strong position to win”. Quiroz continued, “Individually, am more confident riding with the elite riders this year because last year I was still uncomfortable and trying to find my strengths.” Last year was Oscar’s first with the elite riders after he moved up from the Junior Category to U23 Category. “Am more familiar with the [elite] guys and how they ride and my body is more comfortable with the miles of the elite races”, explained Quiroz. Conditioning is critical as Quiroz experienced some cramping in the Valentine Road Race raising questions of his fitness. However, he was not worried about his fitness when asked about his last race. In fact, he asserts that he is in a better position now. “My [training] program had me at a low point where I was training hard and was feeling the lows from that, being tired; I might have been overworking myself and that showed up in my legs for that race”, said Quiroz. “But know my schedule has jumped to where am climbing again. The thing is my schedule was set for this race and cross country so I should be fresh for those races. Every race is its own race and it can show you where your fitness is at but it all depends on your schedule and individual program.”

Conditioning and race strategy is key for all teams. SMART Zoom team captain Henry Moreira said, “We are in pretty good condition right now and this race will give us a good idea where we are as well as where other teams are going into Cross Country”. Moreira basically echoed his coach’s sentiments saying they need to have at least two riders in any breakaway because the wind on the return leg of the race makes it difficult to chase. He believes if they can get Darnell Barrow and or David Henderson in the lead group coming in, they can win.

One team approaching this classic with moderate expectations is the DigiCell 4G Cycling Team. Team captain Gregory Lovell admits that everyone on the team is a bit weary after coming back from training camp in Punta Gorda but they still expect to go out and execute. While they expect to perform well tomorrow, he insists their training is geared towards the Cross Country Classic. His teammate Joel Borland agrees, “All of us are a bit tired so tomorrow we focus more on tactics; I think we need to get two guys in the break to win”. DigiCell 4G suffered a similar fate to SMART Zoom in the Valentine’s Road Race where they missed the breakaway. When asked about that Borland said that Valentine’s was a wake-up call because they may have been riding a bit too relaxed and not alert enough in the road race.

This race remains the precursor for the Annual Cross Country Classic, where teams gauge their readiness as well as that of their competitors. Byron Pope and his Benny’s Megabytes are also recently back from training camp. Brandon Cattouse of C-Ray Road Addikzx recently expressed satisfaction with his progress and that of his team as well. This year’s start list is short on internationals and the Belizean front-runners are game. With everyone hoping to peak at the right time, tomorrow may bring our Cross Country expectations more into focus.

Click here for the complete start list.

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