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 died a few days ago."
When asked if he'd race La Ruta again next year, Montoya said, "Why not try to win again?"