A year ago Thomas Frischknecht ended one of cycling's longest streaks, becoming the first foreign rider to triumph at Costa Rica's famed La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike race. Fast forward 12 months, and the Swiss legend will try to make it two in a row when he returns to defend his title at one of the world's toughest stage races.
Among the Swisspower rider's chief challengers at La Ruta's 14th rendition will be Colombian Leonardo Páez and American Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-Volkswagen). Páez is currently No. 1 in the UCI's marathon rankings, while Bishop is coming off a stellar performance at the world championships, where he finished 8th in the men's cross-country. Páez and Frischknecht were fifth and sixth respectively in that same race. Famed mountain bike pioneer Tom Ritchey has also registered for the race.
The three-day trek across this lush Central American country commences November 3 at the Best Western Jacó Beach Hotel, a stones throw from the Pacific Ocean. November 5's finish is at the port of Moín just a few blocks from Caribbean Sea. In between a mix of professionals and weekend warriors will cover 176 miles and approximately 30,000 feet of climbing. The high point comes beneath the looming shadow of Volcan Irazu. Here the race tops out nearly 9900 feet above sea level, and the starting line a day earlier.
As in year's past, day one's course will head through the Carara National Park's thick jungle. This humid, muddy and breathtaking pass has been traditionally one of the toughest obstacles on the opening day. After the third checkpoint, located in San Pedro de Turrubares, racers will face the grueling Grifoalto region with its muddy trail across the mountains. This replaces last year's long asphalt ascent.
For more information or to sign up for the challenge of a lifetime go to: www.adventurerace.com.
Also see our 2005 coverage of La Ruta de los Conquistadores.