November 13th, 2009
La Ruta de los Conquistadores takes racers on a four day, 239 mile trek across Costa Rica, following the west to east route of 16th Century Spanish Conquistador Juan de Caballon (read more about the event here). J. Andres Vargas with Lead Adventure Media wrote the following account of the second stage.
La Ruta racers took on one of the strongest ascents today about one and a half kilometers after the start of the stage, a wall that took riders from 800 meters up to 1,400 meters above sea level within 8 kilometers.
Top racers showed their world-class skill, making the first ascent seem like a ride in the park although several elite riders paid the price of a rapid pace and a grueling push to the top. Such was the case of Ben Sonntag when at 100 meters from reaching the top of the mountain, his chain jammed in his rear cassette.
Paolo Montoya from team Giant-Italy, who was near the scene as a spectator due to recent injury, said Ben had a top-five position when the chain jammed. Sonntag lost over twenty minutes and was passed bymore than half the participants, yet he managed to make it into 10th position.
Costa Rica’s Deiber Esquivel had another amazing comeback from a hardware malfunction. After finishing in 13th position on Stage 1, Esquivel came in first place on Stage 2, 30 seconds before Manuel Prado, who still holds 1st place in the general standings.
Deiber is the only elite racer from team Economy-Citi-Blue. The Costa Rican Cycling Federation threatened local elite riders with disqualifications for upcoming events if they participated in La Ruta. The event, considered by UCI regulations three years ago to be too far on the adventure-racing side of the fence, is now amidst allegations from the local cycling federation. It claims La Ruta must pay honoraries and percentages for purposes unclear to this day.
Both Esquivel and Prado would be subject to sanctions, but have clearly stated their main goal throughout the season has been to prepare for La Ruta. They said they were willing to undergo penalties to represent their country and teams.
Monavie-Cannondale’s Tinker Juarez was not able to finish the stage when he found himself lost on an abandoned road for more than an hour, immediately followed by an unfortunate flat tire that set him down to a car ride from his nearby location.
“It’s truly unfortunate, but these things happen,” Tinker said. He will continue unranked and keeps a signature smile on his face, always available for a photograph with his loyal fans.
Tomorrow awaits one of the toughest stages of the race, the climb to Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes, reaching a height of close to 3,400 meters above sea level.
Men’s Stage Results:
1. Deiber Esquivel – 03:45:27
2. Manuel Prado – 03:45:58
3. Marc Trayter – 03:46:02
4. Milton Ramos -3:51:09
5. Heinz Zoerweg - 3:51:35
6. Jeremiah Bishop - 3:51:35
7. Alex Grant - 3:51:35
Women’s Stage Results:
1. Louise Kobin – 04:42:34
2. Adriana Rojas – 04:44:52
3. Yesennia Villalta – 06:23:30