La Ruta de Los Conquistadores shifts forward on 2011 calendar

La Ruta de los Conquistadores will move a few weeks earlier on the calendar for 2011, when it will be held November 2-5. The four-day mountain bike stage race takes riders across Costa Rica from the Pacific Ocean to the Carribbean Sea.

The race annually attracts some top international racers, and the earlier date should make the race more attractive to many. "La Ruta is past most of the season, so by moving it earlier, international racers will not have to keep training as long," said Race Founder and Organizer Roman Urbina to Cyclingnews.

While the race will happen earlier in Costa Rica's official rainy season, there is no telling what sort of weather racers will face.

"It is really matter of luck. We have had the race in October - the rainiest month - in years before and have had great, sunny weather," said Urbina to Cyclingnews. "In 2006, the race was held on November 3-5, and we had a great event with over 500 racers, so we think if the rain gods are good, things will be fine."

But if it does rain, at least the racers won't get too chilled. "The great thing about tropical rain is that it is a lot warmer than in other parts of the world."

In 2010, the race was held November 17-20, and it partially overlapped with a new, international stage race, the Brasil Ride. The change in dates should omit any conflict even as the Brasil ride also shifts to a new date of October 16-22.

"There are no multi-stage races internationally at this time, and we hope not to compete with other races," said Urbina. "I think epic events like ours are a great way to see the world and learn a lot about yourself at the same time."

In recent years, La Ruta has reached out to partner with other major stage races by trading race entries among the winners.

"Hopefully, someday we can have a world championship of epic races," said Urbina. "We would like to see how winners of other races do here. We started the networking this year by having the winner of Iron Bike, Ismael Venutura, come do our race. We also want to send our champions to other races around the world."

La Ruta's past winners have been sent to events like the TransRockies, the BC Bike Race and the TransAlp. "We have entries this year to Titan Desert and Iron Bike. I think that it's a winning situation for racers and organizers to have the best riders in the world check out different venues."

There are some changes on tap for the 2011 La Ruta. "We want to change and improve our race every year. Last year, we had a totally new course for day two of the race, but due to unforeseen environmental circumstances, we could not do this section. We hope this year we can.

"I have a few ideas that will be tested out before November. We want to avoid diesel fumes and traffic as much as possible," said Urbina. "We want riders to experience the very essence of our country and share with them the Tico hospitality."

"Day one has a lot of traffic at the end, so we will probably finish the day at the University of Peace about 17km before this year's finish line, but since it will be shorter, we might just add a great section - that has not been done in 16 years - which is very epic."

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