Yapur Wins Valentine Tour 2016

The 2016 Valentine Tour ended earlier today in Belize City just before 1pm local time with Juan Manuel Yapur (MEX) of Team Yapurland emerging as the this year’s winner. The tour covered five stages over four days featuring three road stages, one individual time trial and one circuit race. Yapur wrested the Red Jersey in the stage 3 ITT by putting 10 seconds between himself and the eventual second place finisher Joel Borland (DigiCell 4G). After losing a second in the Stage 4 circuit race, Yapur successfully nursed his nine second margin during the 90 mile stage 5 road race by shadowing Borland all day. “It was a very tough day, at the beginning I had to expect anything because we did not have the team to control the race. So, my strategy was to stay in Borland’s wheel and keep an eye on him all the time. Fortunately, the strategy it worked and by the end of the day I kept the strength to stay on Borland’s wheel and win the race. We are very lucky”. With two of his teammates, from his four man team, returning to Mexico after stage 2, Yapur rode simply to preserve his margin and it paid off.

How it unfolded. The weather was less than perfect to begin the race and the organizers eventually yielded to ensuing rains that arrested the race on the return from the border before the Hawkesworth Bridge. This afforded the riders worse for wear at the time some relief. The first meaningful break comprised nine riders who had opened a gap of 2:33 by Central Farm on the Western Highway, just over sixty miles from the finish. The riders included Herman Requena and Tariq Cano of Team SMART, David Henderson, Jesmar Guerra and Tarique Flowers of Benny’s Megabytes, Giovanni Lovell of DigiCell 4G, Peter Choto of C-Ray Road Addikzx, Ron McKenzie of Westrac Alliance and Ron Vasquez of Western Spirit. The group off the front seemed motivated enough to stay away and opened the lead to 3:25 at the halfway point with about 46 miles to go. At this point the field was surely taking notice as the group was big enough to make it to the line. Particular attention had to be centered on Tarique Flowers who was 1:01 back in the GC race and had two teammates with him. He had David Henderson, who made his Cross Country podium debut in 2015 in a similar break with less riders, and Jesmar Guerra, a young upstart looking to impress his new mates as a first time Benny’s rider. Flowers was the virtual leader and his closest rival in the group was Giovanni Lovell at 12 seconds behind him. The rest of the group were all 55 seconds or greater relative to Flowers, but the possibility of a stage win could have been sufficient motivation to do their part. Some sixteen miles later the peloton had mustered adequate steam to cut into the lead group bringing the gap down to 2:10 at mile 33, no thanks of course to DigiCell or Benny’s. In just about the same distance, the group began to waver and peloton was less than a minute on their heels. With under the fifteen miles to go the peloton was back together. Another attack was launch with under 10 miles to go as Mark Staine (Team SMART), Giovanni Lovell and Tarique Flowers again, tried to get free. The trio managed to muster about half minute 8 miles out but Lovell tried, unsuccessfully, to shake them off at Old Belize. Staine tried his own attack as the peloton was wheeling them in, but that was equally futile. With the peloton united, Brandon Cattouse proved to have the legs in the end to outkick David Flynn (Team Starlight) and Byron Pope (Benny’s Megabytes) for the stage win. Reactions In addition to stage win, Cattouse also took the Green Jersey by dominating the sprint points for the tour. Cattouse sounded relieved after the outing. “It was hard, Jose (Choto, teammate) got flat early, Raf (Rafael Choto), got dropped, Kevin (Swasey) had mechanical problems, Pete (Peter Choto) caught the break and I was left in the peloton alone, and I just sat back and stayed with Borland most of the race because he was second in the GC. So I played a laid back role today and just waited to get the sprint”. When asked about future GC hopes, Cattouse admitted that he needs to work on his time trial and having a stronger team. For DigiCell, it would not be another title for Borland today. Borland conceded that it was a tough day even though they knew that Yapur didn’t have the support. As the race unfolded and Lovell emerged in the break for DigiCell, Borland admitted that when the gap opened up to over three minutes, they decided to leave it up to Lovell. They had confidence that he could drop Tarique in the end. He said that Westrac Alliance put in a lot of work along with David Flynn and Chris Harkey to bring the break back. “When the break was caught he (Lovell) tried again, but Tarique reacted well”, said Borland. Alliance might have worked tremendously in the peloton but their GC hopes were dashed after Nissan Arana lost time in stage 3. “That penalty and being down close to a minute really affected me mentally; it killed my spirit”, Arana sighed. He said his team worked really hard but he was visibly disheartened. Benny’s director Perry Gibson was happy with his team performance on the day. He said that they knew they were the virtual leader on the course today with Tarique and all he had to do was stay with Lovell. If Lovell got the stage win, Tarique would take the tour. Unfortunately, it did not work out in their favour today. He expressed his disappointment with the officiating today and traffic control at a critical time when the lead group had a tenuous lead hovering around a minute. Nonetheless, he believes his team is right where they need to be and is happy with the return of David Henderson and the addition of Jesmar Guerra.

This year two more road stages were added to the shorter 2015 edition, which was also won by a Mexican rider, Ignacio Prado. Prado, riding for local team Benny’s Megabytes, edged out Brandon Cattouse (C-Ray Road Addikzx) by five seconds to claim the title. In the end Yapur took the Red Jersey and the tour win, Brandon Cattouse took the Green Jersey for the sprinters and Ron Vasquez (Western Spirit) on the King of the hills jersey.

Valentine Tour 2016
General Classification

1YAPUR Juan Manuel (MEX) Team Yapurland8:55:50
2BORLAND Joel Adan (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team0:00:09
3HARKEY Chris (USA) Team Starlight0:00:10
4CATTOUSE Brandon (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz0:00:14
5POPE Byron (BIZ) Benny’s Megabytes Elite0:00:32
6ARANA Nissan (BIZ) Westrac Alliance0:00:43
7FLOWERS Tarique (BIZ) Benny’s Megabytes Elite0:01:01
8STEWART Robert Liam (BIZ) Western Spirit Cycling Team0:01:11
9LOVELL Giovanni (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team0:01:13
10VANEGAS Joel (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team0:01:30
11REQUENA Herman (BIZ) Team SMART0:01:56
12FLYNN David (USA) Team Starlight0:01:59
13VASQUEZ Ron (BIZ) Western Spirit Cycling Team0:02:00
14FIGUEROA Zahir (BIZ) BECOL Uprising Cycling Team0:02:17
15TZIB Angel (BIZ) BECOL Uprising Cycling Team0:02:35
16STAINE Mark (BIZ) Team SMART0:02:39
17GUERRA Jesmar (BIZ) Benny’s Megabytes Elite0:02:41
18BARROW Darnell (BIZ) Team SMART0:02:53
19SANTIAGO Richard (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team0:03:07
20CANO Tariq (BIZ) Team SMART0:03:12
21HENDERSON David (BIZ) Benny’s Megabytes Elite0:03:22
22MORIERA Henry (BIZ) Team SMART0:03:43
23COLEMAN Elston (BIZ) Westrac Alliance0:05:03
24HAMILTON Quinton (BIZ) Unattached0:05:07
25MORGAN Brandon (BIZ) Westrac Alliance0:05:43
26CHOTO Peter (BIZ) C-RAY Road Addikz0:07:38
27CASASOLA Leroy (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team0:08:38
28LESLIE Phillip (BIZ) Benny’s Megabytes Elite0:13:40
29MARIANO Robert (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling Team0:17:08
30BUTLER Philton (BIZ) Unattached0:17:50
31WILLACEY ISAIAH (BIZ) Unattached0:20:48
32McKENZIE Ron (BIZ) Westrac Alliance0:24:41
33AVILA BALAM Luis Jose (MEX) Team Yapurland0:26:54
QUIROZ Oscar Jr (BIZ) Western Spirit Cycling TeamDNF
ROBATEAU Keion (BIZ) Westrac AllianceDNF
MIDDLETON Erwin (BIZ) DigiCell 4G Cycling TeamDNF
GABOUREL Kent (BIZ) UnattachedDNF
ABRAHAM Delawn (BIZ) Westrac AllianceDNF
CHOTO Jose (BIZ) C-RAY Road AddikzDNF
JONES Shane (BIZ) Westrac AllianceDNF
GLADDEN Kenroy (BIZ) UnattachedDNF
JOSEPH Fitzgerald (BIZ) LAMPAZ Cycling TeamDNF
SWASEY Kevin (BIZ) C-RAY Road AddikzDNF
LOVELL George Sr (BIZ) UnattachedDNF
CHOTO Rafael (BIZ) C-RAY Road AddikzDNF
AGUAYO Raul (MEX) Team YapurlandDNF
MAHEIA Colin (BIZ) UnattachedDNF
SOLIS Andres Jesus (MEX) Team YapurlandDNF
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