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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Culture

Vuelta a Cuba cross country cycling race continues in Cuba

Posted February 22, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

The thirty fourth “Vuelta a Cuba”, a cross country cycling race from Baracoa to Habana Vieja is underway featuring over one hundred cyclists from five countries divided into fourteen local squads.

The competition began in the easternmost city of Baracoa Cuba and participants covered 1,780 kilometers in thirteen stages.

The first leg of the event was 153 kilometers running from Baracoa to Guantanamo to include the mountainous regions of Vivero and Alto de Cotilla. There were sprints in Imias, San Antonio del Sur and Yateritas.

Cuba’s main squad was led by Raul Granjel and Arnold Alcolea who were runners up 2008 “Vuelta a Cuba” cycling tour.

Cuban Pedro Pablo Perez, who has won the “vuelta a Cuba” on several occasions was absent this year since he is still recovering from injuries he suffered in a car accident last July.

Foreign teams include Venezuela, Mexico, Germany and Canada cyclists.

Venezuelan Manuel Medina and Colombian Gregorio Ladino returned to ride again in this 2009 cycling event in Cuba. Before the race started, Medina who was the sixth in the Vuelta al Tachira and mountain champion of that tour, said his team mates José Alarcón and Franklin Chacón could win this international cycling event.

The Vuelta a Cuba tours were re-launched in 2000. This year marks the forty fifth anniversary of its beginning.

Early predictions had Cubans Raúl Granjel, Arnold Alcolea and Yasmani Martínez as the best chances of making it to the finish line first.

Canadian Keuen Lacambe won the first leg of this year’s Vuelta a Cuba cycling competition which ran between Baracoa and Guantanamo.

Lacambe, from the Planet Energy team, crossed the finish line ahead of Alien Garcia of Ciego de Avila and another Cuban, Yasmani Martinez, who led in the under-23 category. The Canadians appeared highly competitive with a squad including Bruno Langlois, a Canadian route champion, and Ryan Roth, runner-up individual time trials in his country.

Earlier in the day a persistent light rain baptized the cyclists before the climb to the La Farola viaduct, Manuel “El Gato” Medina (Venezuela) won the first mountain goals of Palma Clara and Alto de Cotilla, without the expected opposition of Colombian Gregorio Ladino (Tecos) who wasn’t among the leaders after winning all the mountain stages at last year’s competition.

Back on the flats, the battle centered among the sprinters, with the best being Lizardo Benitez of Guantanamo, who won the intermediate finishes at Imias and San Antonio del Sur.

The second leg of the Vuelta a Cuba was a 111-kilometer stretch between Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, with intermediate finish lines at La Maya, Songo and the July 26 School City.

Leaders at the beginning of the second leg

Individuals: 1- Keuen Lacambe (Planet Energy, 3:50:11 hours); 2- Alien Garcia (Ciego de Avila, 3:50:15); 3- Yasmani Martinez (Cuba, 3:50:17).

Mountain: 1- Manuel Medina (VEN), 15 points); 2- Raul Granjel (CUBA, 8); 3- Arnold Alcolea (CUBA, 7).

Sprint: 1- Llizard Benitez (CUBA 10 points); 2- Adriel Jiménez (Pinar del Rio) and Yordanis Crespo (ISCF) both with 6 points.

By Team: 1- Cuba (11:31:03), 2- Habana (11:31:09) and 3- Venezuela (11:31:12). (Taken from Granma daily).

Lacambe won the first let with a finish in Cienfuegos city in the morning and the second there to Santa Clara city. He won this 60-kilometer circuit in 1:29.09 hours time and was trailed by Cubans Yunier Alonso and Jan Carlos Arias. Cubans Adriel Jiménez and Alien García along with Canadian Albert Gilbert crossed the finish line next.

In the afternoon, he won the second leg of 65 kilometers to Santa Clara in 1:46.13 hours time. Noslen Funes and Yunier Alonso came in second and third.

Agustín Martínez from Villa Clara Cuba and Funes won the intermediate sprints in Cruces and Ranchuelo respectively.

The cycling race in Cuba continues on to the tenth stage that runs from the central Villa Clara province to Cardenas city in Matanzas which is a 185 kilometer leg with intermediate sprints in Santo Domingo, Colón and Jovellanos.

The race will conclude at the Capitolio in Habana Vieja. You can read about past Vuelta a Cuba winners and this story about cycling in Cuba for fun.

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On February 24, 2009, publisher wrote:

Arnold Alcolea Wins Vuelta a Cuba

by ARIEL B. COYA | Periodico26.cu

He neither lost his calm nor jumped with joy. He went on to the podium and shyly smiled while holding the trophy in his hands. Arnold Alcolea attended the awards ceremony as the new Vuelta a Cuba champion with the same modesty that has characterized his career. 

His reaction might have come from it being hard to assimilate he had become the 18th winner of the Vuelta a Cuba despite winning only one of the event’s stages and not having a particularly spectacular finish.

Alcolea carved his win in a different way than past leaders, making consistency his greatest asset, although Canadian Keven Lacombe was finally the winner of the Consistency Award. Alcolea was the second cyclist from Santiago de Cuba to win the General Individual category using his stubbornness. 

His two most important moments were the win at the Moron stage and the fabulous showing at Topes de Collantes. He proved to be the only leader in the last nine years to win by almost two minutes over his closest rival. 

No other competitor was capable of disputing the title, because they all emphasized their specialties, but didn’t have the integral virtuosity of Alcolea. 

It happened to Gato Medina, who was unable to win in Topes despite taking the Mountain Title, and to Parisien, who was unable to safeguard the dividends from the excellent showing against the clock. 

And so the final results were pretty much determined by the halfway point. From there on the Cuban squad played its role as the leaders fighting to win the team competition while Lacombe and the cyclists from the Cuban provinces took turns at the podium at the different intermediate finish lines. Noslen Funes of Cienfuegos repeated his win of the last stage in 2008 with a 3:12:47 time.

Final Leaders of the 34th Vuelta a Cuba

Overall Individual: 1- Arnold Alcolea (CUB), 42:07:15 horas; 2- Francois Parisien (PLA, Canada), 1:57 minutes back; 3- Manuel Medina (VEN), 3:00 back.

Consistency: 1- Keven Lacombe (PLA), 75 puntos; 2- Arnold Alcolea (CUB), 68; 3- Jan Carlos Arias (ISCF), 65.

Mountain: 1- Manuel Medina (VEN), 32 puntos; 2- Arnold Alcolea (CUB), 24; 3- Yeinier Lopez (CUB), 8.

Sprint: 1- Noslen Funes (CFG), 51 puntos; 2- Adriel Jimenez (PRI), 42; 3- Yuniel Alonso (HAB), 38.

Teams: 1- Cuba, 126:29:28 horas; 2- Venezuela, 1:44 minutes back; 3- Planet Energy (CAN), a 2:22.

Best Under-23: 1- Yasmani Martinez (CUB), 42:11:54 (ninth in overall individual); Jose Alarcon (VEN), 1:44 minutes back (12th overall); 3- Adriel Jimenez (PRI), 2:55 back (13th overall).

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On February 24, 2009, Malo wrote:

The winner of the Vuelta a Cuba, Arnold Alcolea, celebrated his great victory by jumping into the waters off the Malecon to demonstrate his considerable swimming skills.  Mr. Alcolea was last seen many miles out at sea swimming furiously in the direction of Miami.

In other bicycling news from Cuba, government officials today denied a request from Cuban competitors that next years race be re-named the Salida de Cuba with the final leg of the race run between Key West and Miami.

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On February 24, 2009, publisher wrote:

Ahh… The Cuba Iron Man competition grin

Very funny.

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On March 16, 2011, Judith Bonner wrote:

Any idea how I contact cyling clubs in Cuba - specifically Santa Clara. Matanzas and Cienfuegs. I have photos of then and would like to send some cycling apparel to them!

Or even the best way of sending stuff over as I do have some addresses?

Thank you