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Gallery: Two days in photos at La Ruta de los Conquistadors

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Race leader Paolo Montoya

Race leader Paolo Montoya
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A typical La Ruta breakfast

A typical La Ruta breakfast
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers' bags await

Racers' bags await
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A view out toward the Pacific from host town 1, Herradura

A view out toward the Pacific from host town 1, Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Perfectly manicured grounds in Herradura

Perfectly manicured grounds in Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The first night's host hotel provided high end accommodations for mountain bikers in Herradura

The first night's host hotel provided high end accommodations for mountain bikers in Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The hotel pool had many tiers. On the eve of the race, it poured rain.

The hotel pool had many tiers. On the eve of the race, it poured rain.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A view in Herradura

A view in Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A portion of a lube dispensing system for coping with La Ruta mud

A portion of a lube dispensing system for coping with La Ruta mud
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Here is where the lube for the on-bike dispensing system lives on one racer's bike

Here is where the lube for the on-bike dispensing system lives on one racer's bike
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Lube storage and delivery. This system is for helping racers with La Ruta's effects on riders' drivetrains

Lube storage and delivery. This system is for helping racers with La Ruta's effects on riders' drivetrains
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Hart Akerson, a long time La Ruta racer, wows those in the hotel lobby with his piano playing skills

Hart Akerson, a long time La Ruta racer, wows those in the hotel lobby with his piano playing skills
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A view from the start of La Ruta in Herradura

A view from the start of La Ruta in Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Another view from the start of La Ruta in Herradura

Another view from the start of La Ruta in Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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This sign is no joke. The local news reported there was an earthquake, albeit minor, sometime during day 1.

This sign is no joke. The local news reported there was an earthquake, albeit minor, sometime during day 1.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Some racers are still doing some early stretching. La Ruta starts are at 6:00 am.

Some racers are still doing some early stretching. La Ruta starts are at 6:00 am.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The start of the 20th anniversary La Ruta

The start of the 20th anniversary La Ruta
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers roll out

Racers roll out
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers set out from Herradura

Racers set out from Herradura
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The head of the peloton during the neutral section of stage 1

The head of the peloton during the neutral section of stage 1
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The lead group nears the top of the first climb

The lead group nears the top of the first climb
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The views in La Ruta are spectacular

The views in La Ruta are spectacular
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A view during stage 1

A view during stage 1
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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This year a helicopter helped cover the race

This year a helicopter helped cover the race
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A rider sets a fast pace early in stage 1

A rider sets a fast pace early in stage 1
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The leaders

The leaders
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The media entourage got to admire this view while waiting for a construction crew to open a road while on the way to the next point to view the peloton

The media entourage got to admire this view while waiting for a construction crew to open a road while on the way to the next point to view the peloton
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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This helicopter, built in the 1960s, helped with race coverage

This helicopter, built in the 1960s, helped with race coverage
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Race leader Paolo Montoya

Race leader Paolo Montoya
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Race leader Paolo Montoya stays hydrated

Race leader Paolo Montoya stays hydrated
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Race leader Paolo Montoya

Race leader Paolo Montoya
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells leads Rom Akerson

Todd Wells leads Rom Akerson
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Alex Grant on the long road climb.

Alex Grant on the long road climb.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Race leader Paolo Montoya had a long, lonely day

Race leader Paolo Montoya had a long, lonely day
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Race leader Paolo Montoya recovers after winning the stage

Race leader Paolo Montoya recovers after winning the stage
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rom Akerson finishes up

Rom Akerson finishes up
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Women's stage winner Pua Mata poses for post-stage photos

Women's stage winner Pua Mata poses for post-stage photos
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

La Ruta de los Conquistadores is a unique mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica. In 2012, it takes place over three days, during which riders travel from the west coast of the country on the Pacific Ocean to the Carribean Sea on the east coast.  Plenty of steep climbs and descents and tough terrain await racers, who have come to test themselves. 

These photos from the day before the start and stage 1 of the 20th anniversary edition.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of La Ruta.