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Stage 2 Closed, ITT To Come

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Earlier today, Byron Pope (Benny’s Megabytes) took stage 2 in the 2016 Valentine Tour in another bunch sprint edging out Brandon Cattouse (C-Ray Road Addikz) who finished second and yesterday’s stage winner Nissan (Westrac Alliance) who finished third. With the two second time bonus earned today by Cattouse, after Pope’s three, he currently shares the slim GC lead with Arana and wears the Red Jersey. With today’s race finishing in another bunch sprint, as expected, the real test comes in the ITT tomorrow.

Cattouse was happy with the result. “The plan was to win the first two stages, instead I came second twice. I still like how it’s going because I’m in good standing overall and for the green jersey”, Cattouse explained. “Tomorrow I will know if I’ll go for the red or the green [Jersey]. I would prefer the red but it will be hard because I am not one of the best time-trialist. I think tomorrow I might lose the red because there are guys like Pope, Borland [Joel], Nissan, who are better than me in the time trial. But after doing two days already, everyone might just be on the same level”.

The classics are staples in the Belizean cycling diet and the question of fatigue will no doubt play a role in a two-stage day tomorrow before the long road race on Sunday. Cattouse said that Arana apparently didn’t have much in the end, but thought that Pope looked strong. “I held back a little in the sprint because I thought I had a little gap but Pope was able to get around me”, Cattouse recounted.

Tomorrow will be all about adding time for the GC riders with strong time trial ability, but Cattouse says he’s going for it still. “Tomorrow I am going 100% in time trial. If I can hold the red I will. I don’t really have the team to help me control the race on Sunday when the war starts. Sunday up in the hills the guys will help me but after that I don’t know. Today Raf [Teammate Rafael Choto] got dropped and only Jose (Choto) was able to help me stay up in a position in front”.

Losing Geovanni Choto was huge for the C-Ray team and Cattouse admitted that Geovanni was the number one guy and they work well together. He knows that he’ll likely lose the Red Jersey tomorrow and it will be hard to get it back on Sunday. One rider he does seem concerned about is DigiCell’s Joel Borland. “I think Borland will go hard in the time trial because he will want to put as much time on us as he can. He will have the team to protect him on Sunday, but they worked hard today to bring back a breakaway. So Sunday, I don’t know how much they will have to help. He could be left isolated. Hopefully, he’ll have to fight for himself just like me”.

Pope held a similar view like Cattouse on the performance of DigiCell 4G. He said that he noticed them working hard on the pace today and thinks that might affect them later on. For his own ambitions, Pope acknowledges that he is currently in a good position for the GC. He admitted, “There will be separation tomorrow and I have to go all in against guys like Borland and Giovanni [Lovell of DigiCell 4G], but Nissan and Yapur [Juan Manuel of Team Yapurland] are also very good too”. He added that he feels good because his training was similar to tour conditions where he pushed harder on progressive days. In the end he says he feels good going into the time trial tomorrow. To his credit, Pope has been the National Time Trial Champion on three previous occasions.

Nissan Arana’s name has been called by other contenders today, but in speaking with him yesterday he took more of a wait and see approach. Speaking with another team representative this afternoon, they were just as tight lipped about their expectation for the team and the field. They have the second largest team with seven riders to DigiCell’s eight. Surrounding Arana is Delawn Abraham, Elston Coleman, Brandon Morgan, Keion Robateau, Ron McKenzie and young Shane Jones, all of whom are still available.

Another team with eyes on Arana is DigiCell 4G. Team representative Elton Bennett admitted as much. “We were more concerned about Nissan before the tour because when we looked at the design of the tour, we said he was arguably the top contender because he is a good time-trialist and he is a decent sprinter. He racked up three seconds yesterday and one today”. While that may be true, his team worked hard for him on the first day to bring him back after punctures and they have not been shy thus far. They will be needed on the road because Sunday will be difficult for a solo act. For the road race Bennett believes that Keion Robateau and Nissan are a good combination and if they can get through the hills, Arana can be there in the end. As for his own team’s performance, Bennett said, like everyone else, that they have identified the time trial as the critical stage. He added, “That’s one of the strengths of this team. We expect Joel and Giovanni to go 1, 2”. Contenders ahead of DigiCell are Cattouse and Arana with four seconds and Pope with three seconds. Bennett believes that their guys can take that time back and add few seconds, possible 15 or more.

In the 2015 National ITT, Borland and Lovell, put a minute on Pope. That was twice the miles (24) and eight months ago and this is a tour, but both sides seem to be in excellent form. About their efforts in today’s stage, Bennett said that they are under control and the pace they took on was within them and just enough to not let anyone else consider attacking. He added that the breakaway today did not have GC guys and they were not in any rush to bring them back. He concluded by saying that Sunday is their race. However, DigiCell did falter tremendously in last year’s edition of the same race, missing out on winning break entirely. Bennett insists that they have grown and are good in that distance. “Giovanni and Joel are good as we showed in the 90 mile race on New Year’s Day”. Their success, however, will be determined by how effective their supporting cast is. Noticeably absent from the group is Joslyn Chavarria Jr, who is very strong in the hills of the west where the first half of this race takes place. Also absent is Gregory Lovell who finished second in the New Year’s Classic. Chavarria is currently in Coast Guard recruit training but we have been unable to get a handle of the elder Lovell’s nonappearance.

The time trial begins tomorrow at 6:30am on the Burrell Boom By-Pass Road.

General Classification after Stage 2

P NAME (NAT) TEAM GC
1 CATTOUSE Brandon (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz 3:35:40
1 ARANA Nissan (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:00:00
3 POPE Byron (BIZ) Benny's Megabytes Elite 0:00:01
4 LOVELL Giovanni (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:03
5 ABRAHAM Delawn (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:00:04
5 ROBATEAU Keion (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:00:04
5 REQUENA Herman (BIZ) Team SMART 0:00:04
5 CASASOLA Leroy (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 QUIROZ Oscar Jr (BIZ) Western Spirit Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 MIDDLETON Erwin (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 JOSEPH Fitzgerald (BIZ) LAMPAZ Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 HENDERSON David (BIZ) Benny's Megabytes Elite 0:00:04
5 MAHEIA Colin (BIZ) Unattached 0:00:04
5 GLADDEN Kenroy (BIZ) Unattached 0:00:04
5 MARIANO Robert (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 BORLAND Joel Adan (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 VANEGAS Joel (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 FIGUEROA Zahir (BIZ) BECOL Uprising Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 MORIERA Henry (BIZ) Team SMART 0:00:04
5 AVILA BALAM Luis Jose (MEX) Team Yapurland 0:00:04
5 TZIB Angel (BIZ) BECOL Uprising Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 VASQUEZ Ron (BIZ) Western Spirit Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 CHOTO Jose (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz 0:00:04
5 SANTIAGO Richard (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 BUTLER Philton (BIZ) Unattached 0:00:04
5 MORGAN Brandon (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:00:04
5 YAPUR Juan Manuel (MEX) Team Yapurland 0:00:04
5 GABOUREL Kent (BIZ) Unattached 0:00:04
5 COLEMAN Elston (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:00:04
5 STEWART Robert Liam (BIZ) Western Spirit Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 HAMILTON Quinton (BIZ) Unattached 0:00:04
5 JONES Shane (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:00:04
5 SOLIS Andres Jesus (MEX) Team Yapurland 0:00:04
5 BARROW Darnell (BIZ) Team SMART 0:00:04
5 AGUAYO Raul (MEX) Team Yapurland 0:00:04
5 GUERRA Jesmar (BIZ) Benny's Megabytes Elite 0:00:04
5 WILLACEY ISAIAH (BIZ) Unattached 0:00:04
5 FLOWERS Tarique (BIZ) Benny's Megabytes Elite 0:00:04
5 LESLIE Phillip (BIZ) Benny's Megabytes Elite 0:00:04
5 FLYNN David (USA) Team Starlight 0:00:04
5 HARKEY Chris (USA) Team Starlight 0:00:04
5 STAINE Mark (BIZ) Team SMART 0:00:04
43 CHOTO Peter (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz 0:00:31
44 CANO Tariq (BIZ) Team SMART 0:00:34
45 SWASEY Kevin (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz 0:10:59
46 LOVELL George Sr (BIZ) Unattached 0:12:42
47 McKENZIE Ron (BIZ) Westrac Alliance 0:14:17
48 CHOTO Rafael (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz 0:14:35

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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