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Wells seals overall La Ruta victory, Hernandez takes final stage

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Race leader Todd Wells (Specialized), left, finished second on the final stage and secured overall victory at La Ruta.

Race leader Todd Wells (Specialized), left, finished second on the final stage and secured overall victory at La Ruta.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rom Akerson on the railroad bridge

Rom Akerson on the railroad bridge
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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It's a long sketchy walk across each bridge.

It's a long sketchy walk across each bridge.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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One of the category leaders

One of the category leaders
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Nate Whitman (Herbalife24)

Nate Whitman (Herbalife24)
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells (Specialized)

Todd Wells (Specialized)
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Luis Mejia leads Federico Ramirez

Luis Mejia leads Federico Ramirez
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Moises Hernandez sets the pace

Moises Hernandez sets the pace
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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The peloton rolls out for stage 4

The peloton rolls out for stage 4
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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The La Ruta peloton

The La Ruta peloton
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells

Todd Wells
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Riders lined up at the start

Riders lined up at the start
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Alex Grant and others get ready for one last day.

Alex Grant and others get ready for one last day.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Adriana Rojas (Specialized) is the women's leader

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) is the women's leader
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Luis Mejia before the start

Luis Mejia before the start
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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A smoking volcano provided beautiful backdrop to start off stage 4

A smoking volcano provided beautiful backdrop to start off stage 4
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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La Ruta finishers' medals

La Ruta finishers' medals
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Riders on the infamous La Ruta railroad trestle bridges

Riders on the infamous La Ruta railroad trestle bridges
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Federico Ramirez Mendez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized)

Federico Ramirez Mendez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized)
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Each finisher received a medal.

Each finisher received a medal.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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A message

A message
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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A key member of the race organization's staff made things run smoothly.

A key member of the race organization's staff made things run smoothly.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Riders finished directly on the beach.

Riders finished directly on the beach.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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A racer after the final day.

A racer after the final day.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Peace out.

Peace out.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Milton Ramos poses with his unusual bike.

Milton Ramos poses with his unusual bike.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells and Rom Akerson talk to the mediaP

Todd Wells and Rom Akerson talk to the mediaP
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Post-race presscon time.

Post-race presscon time.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Ben Sonntag (Cannondale)

Ben Sonntag (Cannondale)
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Rom Akerson and Todd Wells are almost to the finish

Rom Akerson and Todd Wells are almost to the finish
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) wins La Ruta

Todd Wells (Specialized) wins La Ruta
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells recovers after a long four days.

Todd Wells recovers after a long four days.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Federico Ramirez is one of the most experienced La Ruta racers.

Federico Ramirez is one of the most experienced La Ruta racers.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells poses with race staff.

Todd Wells poses with race staff.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells was happy after his overall win.

Todd Wells was happy after his overall win.
(Image credit: Lead Adventure Media)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) was supported by his wife Meg

Todd Wells (Specialized) was supported by his wife Meg
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rom Akerson (Specialized) was feeling the effects of four days of racing Todd Wells

Rom Akerson (Specialized) was feeling the effects of four days of racing Todd Wells
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells and Rom Akerson (both Specialized) came in together on the last stage

Todd Wells and Rom Akerson (both Specialized) came in together on the last stage
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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An example of the railroad trestle bridge

An example of the railroad trestle bridge
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A load of bananas. La Ruta runs past many banana plantations

A load of bananas. La Ruta runs past many banana plantations
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Imagine trying to walk across one of these - from one railroad tie to the next - while getting attacked by bees

Imagine trying to walk across one of these - from one railroad tie to the next - while getting attacked by bees
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The bridges are high up over the water

The bridges are high up over the water
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Locals come out to watch La Ruta racers past and they have a trolley to help those afraid of heights cross the bridge

Locals come out to watch La Ruta racers past and they have a trolley to help those afraid of heights cross the bridge
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Lead moto driver Federico Escalante rode this railroad bridge

Lead moto driver Federico Escalante rode this railroad bridge
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Alex Grant (Cannondale) concentrates on the railroad bridge

Alex Grant (Cannondale) concentrates on the railroad bridge
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Luis Mejia (Capital/Economy)

Luis Mejia (Capital/Economy)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Federico Ramirez Mendez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized)

Federico Ramirez Mendez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rom Akerson (Specialize) on the railroad trestle bridge

Rom Akerson (Specialize) on the railroad trestle bridge
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Alexander Sanchez leads Todd Wells across the railroad bridge

Alexander Sanchez leads Todd Wells across the railroad bridge
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The main chase group approaches

The main chase group approaches
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) recovers

Todd Wells (Specialized) recovers
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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2010 La Ruta winner Ben Sonntag (Cannondale) finishes up

2010 La Ruta winner Ben Sonntag (Cannondale) finishes up
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Stage 4 ends on the beach

Stage 4 ends on the beach
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers enjoy a dip in the Caribbean Sea after stage 4

Racers enjoy a dip in the Caribbean Sea after stage 4
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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It was a hot and humid day at La Playa Bonita

It was a hot and humid day at La Playa Bonita
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Nothing beats a dip in the ocean after four days of mountain bike racing

Nothing beats a dip in the ocean after four days of mountain bike racing
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rebecca Rusch and Louise Kobin finished together after an unplanned 20-mile detour

Rebecca Rusch and Louise Kobin finished together after an unplanned 20-mile detour
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Adriana Rojas (Specialized) is treated by medics after getting stung by bees on the final stage of La Ruta

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) is treated by medics after getting stung by bees on the final stage of La Ruta
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Adriana Rojas (Specialized) won the women's race

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) won the women's race
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Adriana Rojas (Specialized) finishes off La Ruta

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) finishes off La Ruta
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Adriana Rojas (Specialized) makes it four stage wins in four days at La Ruta

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) makes it four stage wins in four days at La Ruta
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Nate Whitman (Herbalife24) finished off his La Ruta in the top 10

Nate Whitman (Herbalife24) finished off his La Ruta in the top 10
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Milton Ramos

Milton Ramos
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Milton Ramos' Sandman bike sported very large tires. He said he did not want to flat.

Milton Ramos' Sandman bike sported very large tires. He said he did not want to flat.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Milton Ramos' bike was the best bike in the race for the sand

Milton Ramos' bike was the best bike in the race for the sand
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rom Akerson (Specialized) speaks at the presscon

Rom Akerson (Specialized) speaks at the presscon
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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La Playa Bonita

La Playa Bonita
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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It's a long way across if you are scared of heights

It's a long way across if you are scared of heights
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Race leader Moises Hernandez Araya (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized)

Race leader Moises Hernandez Araya (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Adriana Rojas (Specialized) at the start

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) at the start
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) dons his leader's jersey before the final stage

Todd Wells (Specialized) dons his leader's jersey before the final stage
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells (Specialized)

Todd Wells (Specialized)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Luis Mejia (7Capital/Economy)

Luis Mejia (7Capital/Economy)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Milton Ramos sported large tires because he didn't want to flat like last year.

Milton Ramos sported large tires because he didn't want to flat like last year.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Milton Ramos

Milton Ramos
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells (Specialized)

Todd Wells (Specialized)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Luis Mejia (7Capital/Economy)

Luis Mejia (7Capital/Economy)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A racer focuses before the start

A racer focuses before the start
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Adriana Rojas

Adriana Rojas
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Bags all stacked up prior to stage 3

Bags all stacked up prior to stage 3
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Lotus flowers were blooming right next to the start

Lotus flowers were blooming right next to the start
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Another type of flower spotted during stage 3

Another type of flower spotted during stage 3
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Look closely - the Irazu volcano was spewing something during the morning of stage 3

Look closely - the Irazu volcano was spewing something during the morning of stage 3
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The category leaders lined up before the start

The category leaders lined up before the start
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers started the final day in Turrialba

Racers started the final day in Turrialba
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The peloton rolls out

The peloton rolls out
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Louise Kobin (Global Biorythm Events) before she went off course

Louise Kobin (Global Biorythm Events) before she went off course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) before she went off course

Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) before she went off course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The ambulance became a temporary media car after the media vehicle broke down

The ambulance became a temporary media car after the media vehicle broke down
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The inside of a Costa Rican ambulance - where Cyclingnews rode after the media vehicle broke down

The inside of a Costa Rican ambulance - where Cyclingnews rode after the media vehicle broke down
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) in second at this point during stage 4

Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) in second at this point during stage 4
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Women's leader Adriana Rojas (Specialized)

Women's leader Adriana Rojas (Specialized)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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There wasn't much to do but look at the plants while our drivers troubleshooted the media vehicle mechanical

There wasn't much to do but look at the plants while our drivers troubleshooted the media vehicle mechanical
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Santos Corea Gutierrez

Santos Corea Gutierrez
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A typical house en route

A typical house en route
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The drivers try (unsuccessfully) to fix the media vehicle. It had to get towed out.

The drivers try (unsuccessfully) to fix the media vehicle. It had to get towed out.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Milton Ramos

Milton Ramos
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The lug nuts were lose and there were problems with the studs that hold them on. Oh and then the brakes didn't work either on this media vehicle

The lug nuts were lose and there were problems with the studs that hold them on. Oh and then the brakes didn't work either on this media vehicle
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Moises Hernandez Araya (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized) went on the attack early and stayed away all day

Moises Hernandez Araya (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized) went on the attack early and stayed away all day
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Dennis Porras Murillo (Farmacia Paris/Rod Bike) tried to follow Moises Hernandez

Dennis Porras Murillo (Farmacia Paris/Rod Bike) tried to follow Moises Hernandez
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Low hanging clouds

Low hanging clouds
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

Moises Hernandez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized) soloed to victory in the final stage of La Ruta de los Conquistadores on Saturday, featuring the race's famous railroad trestle bridges and a finish on the sands of La Playa Bonita.

Race leader Todd Wells (Specialized), competing in his first-ever mountain bike stage race, locked up the general classification.

"It feels so good. A race like this is never over until it's over, and it's been a stressful couple of days since I got the jersey on the first day," said Wells. "It seems like someone new steps up each day. I was just lucky to get enough time on that first stage and be able to sit back and conserve."

Wells and GC runner-up Rom Akerson finished together in second and third places while Federico Ramirez (Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialzed) led the rest of the chasers home for fourth on the final day of racing in Costa Rica.

Akerson had a bit of a scare early in the stage. "Right when it started, on one of the first climbs, I dropped my chain," he said. "That was when one of the guys attacked and there was a moment when I was stressed. I chased for 15 to 20 minutes by myself. I had a few guys sitting on me. I had to grit my teeth pretty hard to get back on.

Hernandez attacked early and hard on stage 4 and was never seen again by the other top contenders. A group including Wells, Akerson, Alex Grant, Sonntag, Ramirez and a few others made it through the steep hills together and reached the flatter railroad tracks section with about 20km to go.

"We were trying to chase down first place, but was pretty far up the road," said Wells. "You're never sure of the time checks you're getting, so we kept at it."

Ramirez did his part appropriately to foil the efforts to chase down his teammate Hernandez. For example, he went to the front on the narrow railroad track section to help slow them down.

Wells, a La Ruta newbie, found the infamous railroad trestle bridges to be challenging. "I've never done anything like that before. They were a little scary. Some are long. It gets hot and you're tired. You don't want to make a mistake. You're not likely to fall off, but it'd be easy to slip between the ties and hurt your leg or foot or something."

As the chasers got to the final aid station on the beach, Akerson and Wells continued to drive the pace and had enough fluids onboard that they could forgo the stop. The other chasers paused for refills while the two Specialized riders pushed on and finished up together.

"Todd and I had agreed to go at the end to try for the stage win," said Akerson. "He stuck to his word when we hit the beach. We both pulled as much as we could. While we didn't take the stage, I'm happy with the race."

"It's my best finish at La Ruta," said Akerson, who just knocked out his 10th edition.

Defending champion Ben Sonntag crossed the line in sixth today for eighth overall. "This year did not run smoothly for me," said Sonntag. "The first day was a full on disaster. The second day was pretty good. The third day, I was sick. Today was alright. I'm glad I could do it, and I'm happy for Todd. I was joking with him that at least the win stays in the same town." Both riders live in Durango, Colorado. Sonntag's teammate and last year's runner-up Alex Grant suffered from the heat and had to drop off the chasers when he started experiencing chills and other signs of serious dehydration.

Women

Adriana Rojas (Specialized) made it a clean sweep of all stages today as she secured overall victory in the women's race. American Jane Rynbrandt (Carmichael Training Systems) wrapped up her La Ruta with a second place stage finish, her best result of the race.

"For me, this win means a lot," said Rojas. "This is a big win. It's also very good for my resume."

It was a harrowing day for both of the top women's finishers as they encountered bees on one of the railroad bridges. Rojas, stung and swollen, required medical treatment at the finish while Rynbrandt was stung "probably 20 times" and finished with a likely broken thumb. She, too, headed directly to the medics.

"I encountered a wasps' nest on one of the railroad crossings, but it was part of the adventure," said Rojas after she recovered following medical treatment. "Conditions today were the best, and I was able to win."

From the beginning, Rojas quickly got a gap. "Then I just wanted to be in the pack for when I got to the railroad tracks section in case something would happen."

It was also not a good day for Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) and Louise Kobin (Global Biorythm Events), who had been riding in second and third places. They got lost while riding with a group and went an extra 20 miles while off course.

"We're not quite sure what happened," said Kobin. "I think we missed a turn."

"Between aid stations 1 and 2, we got lost," said Rusch. "We didn't see a marker for awhile and so we tried to ask directions despite not knowing Spanish. There was a lack of communication. Somebody knew the name of the town hosting aid station 3, so that helped."

The group ran out of fluids on an extremely hot and humid day and had to stop at a store for cokes along the way. "We were thinking we'd never get here and that we'd get disqualified," said Rusch.

Fortunately for Rusch and Kobin, that did not happen and both riders retained their second and third places in the GC, despite losing time during their inadvertent detour.

The first video below, with race footage of stage 4, was provided by Matt Ohran of Cannondale.

Brief Results

Men stage 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Moises Hernandez Araya (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized
2Todd Wells (USA) Specialized4:08:09
3Rom Akerson (CRc)
4Federico Ramirez Mendez (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized4:10:13
5Luis Mejia (Col) 7Capital/Economy
6Ben Sonntag (Ger) Cannondale
7Alexander Sanchez Calderon (CRc) Specialized
8Jose Cruz (Mex)4:12:12
9Alex Grant (USA) Cannondale
10Dennis Porras Murillo (CRc) Farmacia Paris/Rod Bike4:16:15

Women stage 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Adriana Rojas (CRc)5:09:38
2Jane Rynbrandt (USA)
3Ligia Madrigal Moya (CRc) BOSI/OTSwiss
4Rebecca Rusch (USA) Specialized/RedBull
5Louise Kobin (USA) Global Biorythm Events

Men final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Todd Wells (USA) Specialized17:18:06
2Rom Akerson (CRc)0:10:18
3Luis Mejia (Col) 7Capital/Economy0:27:28
4Federico Ramirez Mendez (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized
5Moises Hernandez Araya (CRc) Grupo Orosi Siglo XXI/Specialized
6Milton Ramos (Hon) Specialized
7Alex Grant (USA) Cannondale
8Ben Sonntag (Ger) Cannondale
9Alexander Sanchez Calderon (CRc) Specialized
10Gerry Cody (USA) Herbalife24

Women final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Adriana Rojas (CRc)22:22:27
2Rebecca Rusch (USA) Specialized/RedBull1:19:38
3Louise Kobin (USA) Global Biorythm Events1:45:05
4Jane Rynbrandt (USA)2:21:53
5Ligia Madrigal (CRC)3:54:08

 

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