Wells seals overall La Ruta victory, Hernandez takes final stage

Rojas wins women's overall with sweep of all stages

Moises Hernandez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized) soloed to victory in the final stage of La Ruta de los Conquistadores on Saturday, featuring the race's famous railroad trestle bridges and a finish on the sands of La Playa Bonita.

Race leader Todd Wells (Specialized), competing in his first-ever mountain bike stage race, locked up the general classification.

"It feels so good. A race like this is never over until it's over, and it's been a stressful couple of days since I got the jersey on the first day," said Wells. "It seems like someone new steps up each day. I was just lucky to get enough time on that first stage and be able to sit back and conserve."

Wells and GC runner-up Rom Akerson finished together in second and third places while Federico Ramirez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialzed) led the rest of the chasers home for fourth on the final day of racing in Costa Rica.

Akerson had a bit of a scare early in the stage. "Right when it started, on one of the first climbs, I dropped my chain," he said. "That was when one of the guys attacked and there was a moment when I was stressed. I chased for 15 to 20 minutes by myself. I had a few guys sitting on me. I had to grit my teeth pretty hard to get back on.

Hernandez attacked early and hard on stage 4 and was never seen again by the other top contenders. A group including Wells, Akerson, Alex Grant, Sonntag, Ramirez and a few others made it through the steep hills together and reached the flatter railroad tracks section with about 20km to go.

"We were trying to chase down first place, but was pretty far up the road," said Wells. "You're never sure of the time checks you're getting, so we kept at it."

Ramirez did his part appropriately to foil the efforts to chase down his teammate Hernandez. For example, he went to the front on the narrow railroad track section to help slow them down.

Wells, a La Ruta newbie, found the infamous railroad trestle bridges to be challenging. "I've never done anything like that before. They were a little scary. Some are long. It gets hot and you're tired. You don't want to make a mistake. You're not likely to fall off, but it'd be easy to slip between the ties and hurt your leg or foot or something."

As the chasers got to the final aid station on the beach, Akerson and Wells continued to drive the pace and had enough fluids onboard that they could forgo the stop. The other chasers paused for refills while the two Specialized riders pushed on and finished up together.

"Todd and I had agreed to go at the end to try for the stage win," said Akerson. "He stuck to his word when we hit the beach. We both pulled as much as we could. While we didn't take the stage, I'm happy with the race."

"It's my best finish at La Ruta," said Akerson, who just knocked out his 10th edition.

Defending champion Ben Sonntag crossed the line in sixth today for eighth overall. "This year did not run smoothly for me," said Sonntag. "The first day was a full on disaster. The second day was pretty good. The third day, I was sick. Today was alright. I'm glad I could do it, and I'm happy for Todd. I was joking with him that at least the win stays in the same town." Both riders live in Durango, Colorado. Sonntag's teammate and last year's runner-up Alex Grant suffered from the heat and had to drop off the chasers when he started experiencing chills and other signs of serious dehydration.

Women

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) made it a clean sweep of all stages today as she secured overall victory in the women's race. American Jane Rynbrandt (Carmichael Training Systems) wrapped up her La Ruta with a second place stage finish, her best result of the race.

"For me, this win means a lot," said Rojas. "This is a big win. It's also very good for my resume."

It was a harrowing day for both of the top women's finishers as they encountered bees on one of the railroad bridges. Rojas, stung and swollen, required medical treatment at the finish while Rynbrandt was stung "probably 20 times" and finished with a likely broken thumb. She, too, headed directly to the medics.

"I encountered a wasps' nest on one of the railroad crossings, but it was part of the adventure," said Rojas after she recovered following medical treatment. "Conditions today were the best, and I was able to win."

From the beginning, Rojas quickly got a gap. "Then I just wanted to be in the pack for when I got to the railroad tracks section in case something would happen."

It was also not a good day for Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) and Louise Kobin (Global Biorythm Events), who had been riding in second and third places. They got lost while riding with a group and went an extra 20 miles while off course.

"We're not quite sure what happened," said Kobin. "I think we missed a turn."

"Between aid stations 1 and 2, we got lost," said Rusch. "We didn't see a marker for awhile and so we tried to ask directions despite not knowing Spanish. There was a lack of communication. Somebody knew the name of the town hosting aid station 3, so that helped."

The group ran out of fluids on an extremely hot and humid day and had to stop at a store for cokes along the way. "We were thinking we'd never get here and that we'd get disqualified," said Rusch.

Fortunately for Rusch and Kobin, that did not happen and both riders retained their second and third places in the GC, despite losing time during their inadvertent detour.

The first video below, with race footage of stage 4, was provided by Matt Ohran of Cannondale.

Use this on all articles. The player is narrow enough to fit next to the article gallery images box on the right.
Use this on all articles. The player is narrow enough to fit next to the article gallery images box on the right.

Brief Results

Men stage 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Moises Hernandez Araya (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized  
2Todd Wells (USA) Specialized4:08:09 
3Rom Akerson (CRc)  
4Federico Ramirez Mendez (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized4:10:13 
5Luis Mejia (Col) 7Capital/Economy  
6Ben Sonntag (Ger) Cannondale  
7Alexander Sanchez Calderon (CRc) Specialized  
8Jose Cruz (Mex)4:12:12 
9Alex Grant (USA) Cannondale  
10Dennis Porras Murillo (CRc) Farmacia Paris/Rod Bike4:16:15 
Women stage 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Adriana Rojas (CRc)5:09:38 
2Jane Rynbrandt (USA)  
3Ligia Madrigal Moya (CRc) BOSI/OTSwiss  
4Rebecca Rusch (USA) Specialized/RedBull  
5Louise Kobin (USA) Global Biorythm Events  
Men final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Todd Wells (USA) Specialized17:18:06 
2Rom Akerson (CRc)0:10:18 
3Luis Mejia (Col) 7Capital/Economy0:27:28 
4Federico Ramirez Mendez (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized  
5Moises Hernandez Araya (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized  
6Milton Ramos (Hon) Specialized  
7Alex Grant (USA) Cannondale  
8Ben Sonntag (Ger) Cannondale  
9Alexander Sanchez Calderon (CRc) Specialized  
10Gerry Cody (USA) Herbalife24  
Women final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Adriana Rojas (CRc)22:22:27 
2Rebecca Rusch (USA) Specialized/RedBull1:19:38 
3Louise Kobin (USA) Global Biorythm Events1:45:05 
4Jane Rynbrandt (USA)2:21:53 
5Ligia Madrigal (CRC)3:54:08 

 

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