November 2/06 7:44 am - La Ruta: 12 Hours to Go and a Chat with Thomas Frischknecht
Posted by Editor on 11/2/06
La Ruta - 12 Hours to Go and a Chat with Thomas Frischknecht
The race has moved down to the Pacific coast, to the town of Jaco, where the riders will begin their 3 day trek across Costa Rica to the Caribbean coast in 12 hours time (5:15 am local start). The weather has been hot and humid, with the obligatory evening rain underway at this time. Unlike last year, however, Costa Rica has not been hammered this year by the big hurricanes that swept through the region at this time last year so the mud, while still a huge factor, will probably not be as much of a factor on the first day.
Defending champion Thomas Frischknecht is back - this year with a dual suspension bike. Last year he lost his lead on the second day in the brutal 10 kilometre descent to the finish after suffering multiple flats. "It isn't a halp on the first stage, but for the second and third days it will be an advantage for the descents and especially on the railbed."
Why not two bikes? A hardtail for the climbing on day 1 and a dually for the other days? "I thought about it, but two bikes is not fair."
Frischknecht also said he wasn't concerned about the presence of Hector Paez (Full Dynamix) - the Colombian who has been extremely strong in Marathons this year - or Costa Rican Fred Ramirez - the only three time winner of La Ruta, who has returned after a two year absence to try and take back the title.
"I don't care too much who is here; it's the same for everyone. In La Ruta you have to go in without too many plans, and take things as they come. I don't look on who is hear as the competition, the difficulty here is battling the course. This year I have a bit of an advantage of some of the others (top competitors), because I know what to expect and they haven't done it. The strong guys have to learn about La Ruta, like I did last year, so Ithink my chance to defend my title is as good as it was to win last year.
So who does he see as the big threats? "Paez, (Jeremiah) Bishop, and I think the Italian Marizo Deho (Olimpia), who won Roc D'Azur and in Mexico last week."
Last year, Frischknecht came across the line after the first stage looking shattered, and calling it "the hardest one day race I have ever done." Has that preyed on his mind at all?
"Over the months after La Ruta I forgot how hard it was ... that's the only explanation why I came back! I have good memories from last year, but I have to say that I am a little bit scared ... maybe that is part of the reason I am here - because of the personal challenge."
- Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) leads a large contingent of Canadians - approximately 10% of the field. Hestler doesn't expect to be in contention for the overall, but is looking for a stage win on the second or third day, with his descending skills. Why come to La Ruta? "It's Costa Rica! I've been looking after the team all season, so this is a chance to look after the Dre..."
- Currently, everyone is hanging out in the bar, where the movie Anaconda is playing on the TV. Hopefully not a sign of things to come...
- Chris Redden will be riding La Ruta and providing photos from inside the race. Photos from today, including a pre-race ride by Redden and Hestler - Photos