In an astonishing display of resilience and determination, 28-year-old cyclist Gerson Toc from the small village of Panabajal in Tecpán, Chimaltenango, clinched the 2023 Vuelta Ciclista a Guatemala. The victory came after Toc managed to keep the lead he gained during the competition's sixth stage, aptly known as the 'queen stage.' This rigorous route, stretching from Tecún Umán, San Marcos, to Totonicapán, was conquered by Toc last Wednesday, setting the stage for his championship win.
The Road to Victory
After gaining a two-minute advantage in the penultimate stage, Toc comfortably completed the champion's ride in the final stage around the Anillo Periférico circuit on Sunday. This triumphant finale marks a significant comeback for Toc, who in 2019, had to withdraw from the Vuelta a Guatemala following a severe fall that resulted in a triple collarbone fracture.
Guatemala's Winning Streak
This year's win extends Guatemala's consecutive victories to six since 2016, a streak initiated following Costa Rican Román Villalobos' championship. The lineage of Guatemalan winners includes Mardoqueo Vázquez and Manuel Rodas with two wins each, and Alfredo Ajpacajá with one. The sprinter's jersey was awarded to Bryan Ríos, while the king of the mountains title was seized by Esdras Morales, both fellow Guatemalans.
Finish Line Drama
The final stage was not without its share of drama, with a crash at the finish line in zone 2 involving the entire Decorabaños team. Although Gerson Toc suffered minor injuries, Manuel Rodas bore the brunt of the fall. Ultimately, the final standings saw Gerson Toc leading with a time of 34 hours 39 minutes 27 seconds, trailed by Byron Guama at 1.42 seconds behind, Stanley Fuentes at 2.17 seconds, Kevin Rivera at 7.54 seconds, and Alder Torres at 8.57 seconds.