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Shalini Zabaneh Defends National Road Title

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Shalini Zabaneh (Sagitun Cycling Team) successfully defended her National Road Championship title today June 28, 2015. Coming in alone down the slick descent to the finish, Zabaneh quickly pushed a single clenched fist in the air and crossed the line with a half-smile as if to contain her joy. Zabaneh did not contest the ITT this past Friday and she has had a tough year so far. Her best finish was second at the Valentine Mini Tour in February.

The field pedalled off a few minutes after the Junior/Youth Category fated to complete the same 46-mile circuit leaving Garbutt’s Gas Station in Roaring Creek Village heading east to mile 40 on the George Price Highway and turning back west to the Chiquibul Road before returning to Garbutt’s for the finish.

Close to the halfway point in the course, Estafany Cruz (Sagitun Cycling Team) made the first meaningful attack that opened a gap of more than two minutes, but was eventually caught after the second turning point. Cruz soon attacked again but was caught with less than ten miles to go. Zabaneh attacked after her teammate was caught and that proved to be the decisive move. Zabaneh would go on to win with over a minute to spare on her competitors, chiefly Kaya Cattouse (C-Ray Cycling Team) and Alicia Thompson (Belize Bank Swoosh) who finished second and third, respectively. Cattouse and Thompson had outplaced Zabaneh all year long but her smile at the end seemed to express a statement finish.

Cattouse had placed second to Thompson’s first in the ITT two day earlier. Thompson has had an excellent year thus far and made prior mention of her desire to win the National Road Championship. After the winning the New Year’s Day Classic, Valentine Mini Tour, the Cross Country Classic and the National ITT, Thompson felt like a marked rider, and rightfully so. She had long solo winning runs in the New Year’s race and the Cross Country, but that was not in the cards today. In fact, she believed that they were so keen on her movement that at one point the race slowed to about five miles an hour; a pace she said they could do well to clip out of their pedals. Even so, she was happy with her year thus far.

Noticeably absent from the race was Patricia Chavarria who is native to the area and is a very good performer in the hills. He coach and father related that she was focusing on school earlier in the year and was unable to put in quality training. Also missing was Kerah Eiley, who said that she was concentrating on her running discipline and taking a break from competitive cycling.

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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