The La Ruta de los Conquistadores, an epic stage race, has traditionally draw some of mountain biking's top athletes to the wilds of Costa Rica. Now the well-known event is drawing some roadies, too.
Canadian, Svein Tuft, who won a silver medal the UCI Time Trial World Championships in Italy, will line up at the start on November 12 along with three time Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras, who recently showed his mountain bike skills and won the Titan Desert in Morocco. The race runs four stages through November 15.
As for the top mountain bikers, French Thomas Diestch (Gewiss-Bianchi) has confirmed his intention to try one more time to win La Ruta. He has recently finished second overall at the UCI's Marathon Wold Cup, just behind his teammate and former La Ruta champion, Colombian Leonardo Páez. Diestch was third in last year's La Ruta.
After winning the 2008 Trans Rockies in Canada, Italians Marzio Deho and Johnny Cattaneo will tackle the Tropical conditions in Costa Rica in an attempt to conquer La Ruta. Deho first came to La Ruta in 2006, finishing fifth in the open men's category.
Defending champion Federico Ramírez (BCR-Pizza Hut) will represent the locals and try for a fifth La Ruta trophy. Other Costa Ricans at the start will include Paolo Montoya, Manuel Prado and Deiber Esquivel.
On the women's side, last year's winner Sue Haywood will not be on hand to defend after breaking her tibia and fibula in late July. However, 2007 runner up Louise Kobin will be back along with Sara Bresnick-Zocchi as favorites.
The course for the 2008 will have a few changes. On day one, a gravel road will replace muddy, gravel section near Bijagual from the previous two years and near the end of the stage, racers will finish in a new location in Santa Ana, adding 15km to the stage. On day two, a new start location, also in Santa Ana, will mean a more rideable opening climb. A final hike to Terramall Shopping Centre will also be eliminated. Days three and four will remain practically unchanged.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores 2008
November 12 - Stage 1:Jacó to Ciudad Colón, 110km
November 13 - Stage 2: Ciudad Colón to Tres Ríos, 76km
November 14 - Stage 3: Tres Rios to Turrialba, 66.7km
November 15 - Stage 4: Turrialba to Bonita Beach, 125km