Video: Wells off to a good start at La Ruta

Todd Wells (Specialized) after winning stage 1

Todd Wells (Specialized) after winning stage 1 (Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

Todd Wells (Specialized) got his first La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race experience off to a good start on Wednesday with a stage 1 victory in Costa Rica.

When asked what it was like to race his first ever time in Costa Rica, he said, "There was lots of hiking and steep waterfalls and stuff I never got to experience before. It was great."

"The hiking sections were interesting. You'd ride a few minutes, hike a few minutes and then ride some more. It wasn't muddy at all in the national park. It was more of a clay, so it would get slippery and there were some babyhead rocks, so it was hard to get traction.

It's not like Wells had much time to admire the scenery which included lush green mountains, expansive views and low hanging clouds. "There were a few times in the beginning when we weren't going too hard, and I got to look around, but after we went through the jungle, I didn't get to see much. I had to stay focused and try to get to the finish."

Wells battled Milton Ramos (Specialized) for the win. The two rode together or near each other for much of the race, but in the end Wells was stronger.

"I tried to push it in the jungle because I'm a big tall guy and I can take big steps," said Wells of his early race strategy against the man who emerged as his top rival on the first day. "Ramos is light and I knew he would go up the road climb fast."

Asked about his impression of a race often billed as the "toughest in the world," Wells said, "It was about as hard as I expected, but it was only day 1 so I'm sure it will only get harder as it goes on."

Stage 2 will start Thursday morning with a brutal climb out of San Jose as the race continues to head east over mountainous terrain toward the Caribbean Sea.

"I've seen the first climb tomorrow, and I know it will be hard. I'm sure everyone who didn't have a good day today will want to do better tomorrow," said Wells who has the next three days to defend his lead.

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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.