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Video: Sonntag's La Ruta overall hopes dashed after day 1

Ben Sonntag refuels during a tough stage 3

Ben Sonntag refuels during a tough stage 3 (Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)

Cannondale's Ben Sonntag saw his hopes for winning the general classification dashed on day 1 of the La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica on Wednesday. The defending champion crashed early in the stage - during the treacherous jungle section and broke his handlebars.

"Before the feed station on the first descent, I messed up and crashed and my handlebars snapped," said an obviously disappointed Sonntag.

"I basically walked the whole jungle and then I kept on riding. I went something like 45km with a broken handlebar. I was holding onto a little bit of it. Every descent I walked because I was afraid it would snap on the other side given the damage already. I knew I wouldn't win any more so it wasn't worth the risk."

To get as far as he did with a partial bar, the German moved his brake and shifter controls inboard just enough to have a nub of broken handlebar to hold on to.

Due to some confusion about what parts could be switched and where on the course, Sonntag persisted past the first aid station he encountered until he got confirmation from officials that he could legally swap bars and not be disqualified.

After the swap, he continued onward, but finished about one hour after stage winner Todd Wells.

"I took my time and switched out the bar at aid station 3. Then I just rode it home."

Looking ahead, Sonntag says he will work for his teammate Alex Grant, who helped him last year, as well as target daily results.

"For sure, I want to win a stage. I'd like to come out of this with something," he said.

*Video is currently not displaying properly for a number of users. You can alternatively view it in full here.

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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.