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Santi is Back, Takes 2015 Belmopan Classic

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The official classification for the 34th Annual Belmopan Classic sponsored by SMART clocked Guy East (USA) of Santino’s Ride to Victory, crossing the finish line solo, four hours, seventeen minutes and twenty two seconds after the 100 mile ride from Belize City to Belmopan City and back. An ecstatic Santino Castillo, manager and coach of the winning team, stood about two hundred yards at the start of the finish line chute to revel in his victorious return to elite cycling. When the remaining riders cleared the finish line, Castillo recollected his strategy coming into this important classic before the big on; the Annual Cross Country Classic. “Well the strategy was for Guy East to ride for Marlon Castillo and for them to make the break, and they did just that. At that point Guy was supposed to slave himself for Marlon, and he did just that. The final plan was after mile 10 [from the finish…Ed] Marlon was supposed to attack and have the others chase, while Guy was supposed to sit on in case it came to a sprint because he is a good sprinter; but obviously Marlon wasn’t feeling well because the attack never did come. So when they reached mile 3, Guy tried an attack, which was a counter attack off Joel Borland’s [Digicell 4G], attack and I thought they would catch him and Marlon would attack again, but they never did. He was really plan B but at the end of the day Santino’s won and it’s really a team victory”. Marlon Castillo continues to have huge expectations from the cycling community and when asked if he was happy with his captain’s performance in that race going into Cross Country, Santino said, “Absolutely”. Castillo said that considering Marlon wasn’t fully training coming into this year, he missed New Year’s Classic then finished third in the Valentine Tour but he’s still ten to fifteen pounds more than he should be but he will be ready for Cross Country.

Guy East concurred with his manager on the strategy, but said that it was a good race, the guys in the breakaway were strong, including Marlon, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out strategy wise and it just happen that he got the victory. He recounted the separation at the end, saying, “We were working hard all day and I just told Marlon to stop pulling through it disrupted the rhythm of the breakaway; later I just attacked from back with a lot of speed and no one was expecting it”. He said he wants to come back for the Cross Country, but noted that its forty miles longer and just as hot and windy so they will have to re-evaluate their strategy for that.

Fourteen seconds after East crossed the finish, Geovanni Choto of C-Ray Road Addikzx strolled in to take second place, followed 13 seconds later by teammate Brandon Cattouse, Marlon Castillo and Jose Angel Robles Lopez of Western Spirit to round out the top five in that order. Jose Mojica (CUB) of Benny’s Megabytes and Joel Borland followed to complete the finish for the seven man breakaway group that opened a gap of seven minutes on the peloton.

The race unfolded as suspected. In the week leading up to the race most teams acknowledged the traditional early breakaway that produced previous winners. They echoed the need to have at least two guys in that break. True to form, the peloton splintered immediately between miles fourteen and fifteen on the way out. Only two teams were successful in getting numbers in the seven man break that would ride away with the race, Santino’s Ride to Victory and C-Ray Road Addikzx. Brandon Cattouse, who finished third moving up from fifth last year has been riding well coming into this race and he said that East was really strong pushing the pace of the breakaway. In the end, he said when the final attack came, his teammate, Choto got up immediately but was unable to get on Guy’s wheel. He said his late reaction was cost him a chance at a better finish, but admits that Guy seemed the strongest in the end. Nonetheless, he was happy with his team’s result, 2nd and 3rd overall, and feels confident right now, citing the international dependency of the other teams, and C-Ray’s commitment to their training which seems to be paying off.

Rounding out the top ten were David Henderson of Smart Zoom and Gregory Lovell and Richard Santiago of Digicell 4G. The best performing teams based on the results were, Santino’s, C-Ray, Digicell and in some respect SMART Zoom. They accounted for 12 of the top 20 positions. Western Spirit race favorite, Oscar Quiroz, crashed out early in the race. Nevertheless, one noteworthy story of the Belmopan Classic was the attrition rate so close to Cross Country; so many riders falling off. Perhaps it was the effect of the torrid pace, the high incidence of mechanicals or the spills early outside Belize City and in Belmopan. Whatever the reason, teams now have a clearer insight to the adjustments that may need to make in the next week two plus weeks before the Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic.

Click here for the Official Final Classification.

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