Today 190 top endurance racers competed in the first day of La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
The race has a total of 9068 meters of elevation gain/loss and diverse terrain that includes rivers, mud, railroad bridges, active volcanoes, and humid jungles. This year the field includes 176 men and 14 women. 50% of the racers are Costa Rican and 50% are international.
Ben Sontagg (USA Cannondale Factory Team) won stage 1 of La Ruta with a total time of 05h:58m:38s. Luis Mejia (Colombia Team Economy/Citi-Bank/Blue) took second with a time of 6h:00m:19s and Sonntag’s teammate Alex Grant (USA) placed third with a time of 6h:01m:07s.
The competition was fierce as a Sontagg, Mejia, and Grant held together throughout the entire course. It was at the last 10 imnutes of the course when Sonntag was able to brake away from the group of three, bringing along Mejía.
At the time of the final sprint Sonntag said: “What the heck am I doing? I don’t know if I can hold this.”
He did manage to hold his speed and quickly put distance between himself and his competitors. Sontagg and Grant agree that it is helpful to race with a teammate at the front of the pack. Grant reported the Cannondale Team would ultimately like to hold first and second place in the competition.
Angela Parra Takes First Place on Stage 1
Colombian racer, Angela Parra, takes the podium today at the first stage of La Ruta de los Conquistadores 2010. Louise Kobin (USA) placed second and Rebecca Rusch (USA) came in third. Kobin and Parra rode together a good portion of the race until Parra pulled ahead at one of the everlasting hills.
Both of them made a wrong turn at one of the many intersections along the way, but after about three minutes a local pointed them in the right direction.
Parra was new to mountainbiking the first time she rode La Ruta; this year she has been training hard and expects to improve her performance. She felt very happy to come in first on the most difficult day of the race.
“I thank the sky and my team I managed to be first.” said Parra.
Kobin said she felt good about today and she just tried to follow her own pace since there is much road ahead and anything can happen in a race like La Ruta.
Rusch expressed feeling very happy about her performance today. Rusch said she feels good and is looking forward to racing tomorrow.
Tune in tomorrow for the stage 2 report.