By Rob Jones
On November 9, the organizers of Costa Rica's most famous bike race, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, held a press conference in San Jose to introduce the 2007 edition. This year is the 15th anniversary of La Ruta, and the organizers have added an extra day (up to four from three), and extra distance and climbing.
For 2007 La Ruta has increased by 72 kilometres, to 360 kilometres, with the vertical gain now up to a staggering 12,000 metres (39,000 feet). The reasons for the additional day are twofold:
1. Last year a significant proportion of participants could not complete the first day (which contained approximately half of the total climbing for the event). The final climb was a brutally steep and long off-road muddy slog, which did people in (earlier years had used a paved climb). Thomas Frischknecht exclaimed at the time "the hardest day of racing I have ever done".
2. The organizers wanted to truly make this a 'coast to coast' event. Previous years had a gap around San Jose.
The first stage, from Jaco Beach on the Pacific Coast to El Rodeo (west of San Jose), has gone back to the previous course, with the final climb paved. The course is by no means easy, with 4420 metres of vertical gain over 95 kilometres. The first portion of the course contains the most technical trails of the entire race, with riders slogging through tropical rain forest, mud bogs and river crossings. They also pass through the beautiful Carara National Park – Carara is a local native word for crocodile...
See the entire La Ruta de Los Conquistadores preview here and stay tuned this week for full race reports, results and photos from the Costa Rican classic..