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Heras plans La Ruta return

Roberto Heras competing in La Ruta de los Conquistadores

Roberto Heras competing in La Ruta de los Conquistadores (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

Former Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras will return to compete for the second time in a challenging Costa Rican mountain bike stage race. The Spaniard will race La Ruta de los Conquistadores on November 11-14, when he hopes to better his seventh place overall finish of 2008.

Heras underestimated the challenge of La Ruta last year and intends to improve his performance this year.

"Participating in 2008 was a wonderful experience. I brought wonderful memories back with me to Spain," said Heras. "... this year I want to be fully prepared for the race. As for last year, I barely had time to train."

The 2008 La Ruta was dominated by Costa Ricans including a win by Federico Ramírez Méndez. His compatriots, Paolo Montoya Cantillo and Enrique Artavia Cedeño, rounded out the top three, and the first foreigner was Thomas Dietsch of France in fourth.

The 35-year-old Heras won the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) four times. He still holds the title for the first three (in 2000, 2003 and 2004), but for the fourth win (in 2005), he was disqualified for taking EPO.

In his road career, Heras raced for Kelme-Costa Blanca, Liberty Seguros-Würth and US Postal Service teams. As part of the latter, he raced with Lance Armstrong.

At this year's La Ruta, Heras will face the usual strong Costa Rican contingent as well as the entire MonaVie-Cannondale team, which will be sending seven riders.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.