La Ruta de los Conquistadores stage one: Paolo Montoya takes the lead

Todd Wells & Rom Akerson. Image: J. Andrés Vargas, Lead Adventure Media

The 20th anniversary of La Ruta de los Conquistadores kicked off with a bang Thursday as 500 riders departed from Jaco on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast on the way to the Caribbean, where they will finish 161 miles later on Saturday.

The men’s elite field was won by Costa Rica’s Paolo Montoya, who covered stage one’s 68 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing in 5:01:19. Defending race champ Todd Wells finished in 5:03:27, 2 minutes 8 seconds behind Montoya, who won La Ruta in 2004.

In her first time racing La Ruta, American was the fastest woman, finishing the day in the top-20 with a time of 5:54:11.

Paolo Montoya. Image: J. Andrés Vargas, Lead Adventure Media

Stage one ended badly for last year’s second-place finisher, Rom Akerson of Costa Rica. Akerson was disqualified for taking aid outside authorized feed zones. The decision by Costa Rican Cycling Federation officials means American Alex Grant moves into third place 10 minutes 1 second behind Montoya.

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