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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Monday, November 5, 2012

Date published:
November 05, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Akerson disqualified from La Ruta de los Conquistadors

    Todd Wells leads Rom Akerson
    Article published:
    November 02, 2012, 5:32 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Outside assistance issue arises

    Last year's La Ruta de los Conquistadores overall runner-up Rom Akerson was disqualified after Costa Rican Cycling Federation officials ruled that he had accepted assistance from outside the race's designated areas during stage 1 on Thursday. Racers are allowed to accept assistance only in the feeds zones and within 500m before and after.

    La Ruta promoter Roman Urbina said that he regretted that the officials had to make the disqualification, but that the race had to be fair for all the top riders. He noted that the race is regulated by the Costa Rican Cycling Federation (Federación Costarricense de Ciclistmo, FECOCI).

    The federation's officials and judges were presiding at the race. In an official statement after the race, organizers said, "Policies, procedures and penalties are regulated and enforced by the FECOCI through its representing judges in the event. La Ruta must respect these decisions."

    "They told him not to do it and he kept doing it. It's not like he wasn't warned," said Urbina to a group of reporters immediately after the finish. "Then he kept doing it. I hate to disqualify him. He asked me if I could just keep him in, and I said, 'I love you as a person and you're a great athlete, but what about the rest of the field?' They will be on my butt if I let you go."

    "It's the same rule as recent years. Rom is a great guy, and I love his family. Friendship is one thing and another is being fair. It's not fair for the others."

    Urbina noted that other top riders were complying with the ban against outside assistance. "[Stage winner Paolo] Montoya came in, and he looked almost dead. I saw Paolo out there and people were offering him ice cold water and he was saying 'no'. They were all following the rules, and it should be the same for all the top guys."

    Although Akerson was not available at the race finish for...

  • Mata's first La Ruta experience goes well

    Pua Mata on her way to winning stage 1 of La Ruta
    Article published:
    November 02, 2012, 11:39 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    US marathon champion leads Costa Rican race after first stage

    Monique Pua Mata is an accomplished endurance and cross country mountain bike racer, but this year is her first time competing in La Ruta de los Conquistadores.

    "It lived up to expectations," said the current US marathon national champion after stage 1. "It is a hard race for sure... it's one of the hardest ones I've done."

    As heavy rains happened much of the day prior to the start, Mata was concerned.  She had heard years of stories of unimaginably thick mud, especially in the famous Carara National Park jungle section on stage 1.

    "I was a little worried yesterday with the downpour, but today we had beautiful weather," she said. "Then I was worried on the first climb. I wanted to get it out of the way and was thinking about the jungle. But I was like, 'keep moving forward and stay in once piece and don't get flustered'. I stopped a few times to lube my chain, and I stopped in the rivers to wash off my bike, but I never got frustrated."

    "I heard about this race years ago and always wanted to do it because you hear what a challenge it is. A race like this - whether you finish first or last - to conquer it is huge. In my head, I made it a little harder. I had something completely different in my head about the jungle. It was kind of nice though. When you expect the worst times two and it's worse, but not times two, it's good."

    While Mata didn't find the jungle section as tough as she'd expected, the climbs did live up to their billing. "The climbs were everything that people had said. You're either going straight up or straight down."

    Mata spent the day mostly alone and as the lead woman. The hardest part was not knowing where she was. "I was by myself a lot. There were a few guys I went back and forth with. Through the...

  • Gallery: Two days in photos at La Ruta de los Conquistadors

    Race leader Paolo Montoya
    Article published:
    November 02, 2012, 18:30 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Scenes from the mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica

    La Ruta de los Conquistadores is a unique mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica. In 2012, it takes place over three days, during which riders travel from the west coast of the country on the Pacific Ocean to the Carribean Sea on the east coast.  Plenty of steep climbs and descents and tough terrain await racers, who have come to test themselves. 

    These photos from the day before the start and stage 1 of the 20th anniversary edition.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of La Ruta.

  • UCI updates 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup schedule

    Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike) leads Julie Bresset (BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry)
    Article published:
    November 03, 2012, 8:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    China not included; German venue changes

    The UCI published an updated 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup calendar on its website on Friday. Next year's World Cup will comprise eight rounds in eight different countries. It will include five cross country eliminator (XCE) rounds and six each for downhill (DHI) and Olympic cross country (XCO).

    A preliminary World Cup schedule was released in mid-July. Since then, a new round for cross country and eliminator racing has been added as the first event of 2013 in Albstadt, Germany, on May 18-19. The triple round scheduled for Willingen, Germany on June 15-16 is no longer on the calendar after it withdrew its bid. Its departure opened up the opportunity for Albstadt.

    The downhill season will get underway in Fort William, Great Britain three weeks later on June 8-9.

    A few other rounds have switched dates. Val di Sole moved up to June 15-16 from the previously posted July 27-18; while Andorra moved from August 3-4 to July 27-28.

    Previously, the city of Guiyang, China was mentioned as a World Cup candidate venue. In September, it ran a World Cup test event that was well received by racers. The UCI said the city will put forward its candidature to host a round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2014. The news should come as a relief to World Cup team managers who were concerned about travel costs to the Asian venue.

    2013 UCI Mountain Bike Calendar (updated)

    2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Calendar
    May 18-19: Cross Country #1, Eliminator #1 - Albstadt, Germany
    May 25-26: Cross country #2, Eliminator #2 - Nove Mesto, Czech
    June 8-9: Downhill #1 - Fort William, Great Britain
    June 15-16: Cross country #3, Eliminator #3, Downhill #2 - Val di Sole, Italy
    July 27-28: Cross country #4, Eliminator #4, Downhill #3 - Vallnord, Andorra
    August 10-11: Cross country #5,...

  • Gallery: Racers face a challenging stage 3 at La Ruta

    Bikes await their riders at the start of stage 2
    Article published:
    November 03, 2012, 13:03 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Volcanos, climbs above the clouds and a treacherous descent on the day's route

    The 500 racers at La Ruta de los Conquistadores faced a 79km stage 2 from near San Jose to Turrialba over the Irazú Volcano and past the Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica on Friday. 

    From San Jose, the riders climbed high above the valleys below, rising above the clouds.  A long pavement climb took them up toward the volcanos and a treacherous descent over a wet, rocky road challenged riders on the downhill.

    The attached photos capture day two's action at the 20th anniversary La Ruta.  The race finishes up on Saturday on the beach of the Carribbean Sea.

  • Persistence pays off for Montoya

    Paolo Montoya had a good day and kept his leader's jersey
    Article published:
    November 05, 2012, 16:48 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Costa Rican celebrates second La Ruta de los Conquistadores victory

    Paolo Montoya overcame a flat tire on the final stage of La Ruta de los Conquistadores this weekend to defend his overall lead and take the race title on the Carribbean beach in Limon, Costa Rica. It was Montoya's second La Ruta victory.

    The 27-year-old won his first La Ruta at age 19 in 2004. "It's my second time winning. After the first time, I tried and got second place twice more. My third try was the charm. Now I won."

    "I'm very happy because I have shown that I am the best mountain biker in Costa Rica this season," he said. "I went to the Olympic Games this year. People weren't expecting that from me." He finished 36th at the Olympics and was also the Costa Rican national champion.

    La Ruta is Montoya's last race of the season. "I'm going to rest for a month," he said of his off-season plans.

    "Next year, I will probably go back to Europe, to Italy to ride cross country and some marathons. I'm waiting to sort that out, and if it doesn't work out, I'll stay here. My objectives will be determined with my team for next year."

    The victorious Montoya was greeted on the beach by his father and mother and niece. His father, Rodrigo Montoya is also a La Ruta winner. Montoya the elder won the race in 1994 and 1995.

    "I'm honored to win twice, like my dad did at La Ruta," he said.

    "I think I suffered more this time than last time. The first day was really hard. Yesterday, I felt good and today, I got a flat. Thanks to my teammates and my dad and my team's staff."

    "I am dedicating this race win to my family. There was a death in a my family - one of my cousins...

  • Mata delights in La Ruta de los Conquistadores success

    Pua Mata on her way to winning stage 1 of La Ruta
    Article published:
    November 05, 2012, 20:04 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Sho-Air/Cannondale rider wins all three stages and overall

    Monique "Pua" Mata's La Ruta de los Conquistadores record is perfect. In her first attempt at the Costa Rican mountain bike stage race, she won all three stages and the overall women's race title.

    "It's so awesome to win. I heard people out there screaming my name. It's a phenomenal race," said Mata. "I think everyone should come and challenge themselves. It's such a unique experience."

    Mata was challenged herself on the final day by the infamous railroad trestle bridges. They are high up over a wide and fast river and some of the railroad ties are missing. It's especially tricky for those scared of heights as riders can see down to the moving water far below the ties.

    "I was in survival mode. The last day was the hardest day, but I got through it. Those bridges are scary!" said Mata after the finish. "I can pedal my bike, but I can't walk across bridges. I was holding everyone up and I felt bad. I said I was sorry."

    "I didn't know what to expect coming to the bridges. The first bridge ... everyone told me what it would be like, and I was trying to focus on each trestle and not look beyond that. A couple had the metal steps. A few times I could feel my shoes slipping, but I survived."

    The railroad ties were especially treacherous given the rain throughout most of the stage.

    "I don't know what I was expecting with the bridges, but it was hard, and I almost wanted to cry the first one. The first one was the longest and most scary... there was no warm-up. By the last one, I was walking like a pro."

    With the final stage shorter than usual, Mata had to battled it out with several hundred other riders to get a good position going into the bridges, which came not long after the start in this year's edition of the race. "The start was chaos. The turns, the rain, just hearing brakes and tires skidding. there were a lot of...

  • Racers prefer four-day La Ruta de los Conquistadors

    Racers had the option to raft down the Pacuare River prior to the start of stage 3.
    Article published:
    November 05, 2012, 21:43 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    First day too decisive

    For its 20th anniversary edition, La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race returned to a three-day format, instead of remaining with the four-day format it had used in more recent years.

    Organizers made the change in an effort to get more racers for the 20th edition of the race and in that they were successful; there were about 450 racers, approximately double last year.

    Most racers who had done La Ruta previously told Cyclingnews that they hoped the race would go back to four days in 2013.

    When asked about the three-day version, five-time La Ruta winner Federico Ramirez of Costa Rica said, "I don't like it because there's not enough time to make up time. Like in my case, I lost a lot of time on the first day. So this format does not favor me. It's too short."

    Both the men's and women's races were decided on the first day. The first day stage winners gained substantial time and then defended their leads or even extended their leads on the remaining two days, both of which were much shorter than day 1.

    In addition to dropping a day, the third day of the 2012 La Ruta was also shorter than the final day of previous years, with the rolling, steep hills all cut out and only the flat parts left in. Instead, the final stage started later and racers were invited to participate in an optional (not counted toward general classification) whitewater rafting adventure down a section of the famous Pacuare River. All the elite contenders skipped the rafting and slept instead of getting up for the 4:30 am shuttle to the put-in, but about 200 amateurs opted in, and the general consensus among them was that the rafting was fun.