Posted by Editor on 11/15/07
Ramirez & Haywood Solidify Leads at La Ruta
'Lico' Ramirez (BCR-Pizza Hut-Powerade) proved that his win yesterday in stage 1 of La Ruta was no fluke after powering away from the remnants of an elite group to take his second win, and cement his hold on the yellow leader's jersey. His team mate Juan Alberto Solis took second place on the stage, 4:17 down, while Paolo Montoya (Macosta Lee Cougan) dropped Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) in the final few hundred metres for third, at 4:43.
Montoya continues to hold onto second place, but is now a distant 12:08 behind Ramirez, who is well on track to becoming the first ever four-time winner of La Ruta. Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss-Bianchi) finished sixth on the stage and held onto third overall, but is 27:43 in arrears.
Sue Haywood (Trek-VW) solidified her hold on the women's title after taking a second consecutive stage over former three-time winner Louise Kobin (Sho Air-Rock and Road), and now sits an almost insurmountable 25:40 in front of Kobin.
Stage 2, while not the monster like stage 1, which decimated the field, with over 20% of competitors missing the time cut, was still a hard, hard day of racing. Starting from El Rodeo west of San Jose, the 75.2 kilometre stage took the riders in a long southerly loop around to the east of the capital. The opening three kilometre dirt climb merely softened up the field, with a sketchy dirt descent taking riders to the base of the main climb, at 25 kilometres.
While this climb was paved, it was by no means easy, as Dietsch can attest to: "Climbs like this we do not see in Europe, with steep, steep sections and then a little flat and then steep, steep again. It is very hard to ride these climbs, it takes much energy out of you."
The lead group was down to nine by the start of the main climb - Ramirez, Solis, Montoya, Plaxton, Dietsch, Sandro Spaeth (Ride Magazine-Texn), Enrique Artavia (Super Pro Banco BCT), Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) and Dieber Esquivel (IBP Pensiones).
Esquivel made a switch to skinny road-style tires for the climb, and immediately was at an advantage, launching multiple attacks which the group had to reel back in each time. However, the strategy proved to be self-defeating in the end, as multiple flats dropped him off the back of the group and he eventually finished ninth.
Solis and Artavia launched the most serious attack three-quarters of the way up the climb, with Plaxton bridging up to them. Plaxton took charge of the lead trio, with Artavia being dropped shortly afterwards. The rest of the group looked to Ramirez to chase, but he was content to let the gap grow to nearly a minute before counterattacking, and quickly bridging up to the leaders.
"Federico came across easily, and then his team mate paced him at a pretty hard rate until Federico jumped again," explained Plaxton. "I tried to go with him (Ramirez) but he is as strong as hell."
"The idea was to attack earlier," said Ramirez "but my team mate had a problem with his bike so we waited a little bit. The spot I attacked was one that I knew well from training on the course, so I was confident I could do it. I knew 80% of the course from training, and I knew that this would be a hard, hard race; a stage like in the TransRockies." (Note: Ramirez was on a team which finished second at this year's TransRockies)
Ramirez crested the climb over two minutes ahead, while Plaxton slid back from Solis to sit in third as the riders headed into a long technical dirt descent. Deep ruts and sudden sections of thick mud with the consistency of cream cheese meant that riders had to be cautious all the way down, in the light drizzle which was falling on the upper portion of the descent.
Ramirez extended his lead through both the first descent and the second very steep section into the finish which was all but unrideable. Behind, the remainder of the chase group had shattered, with Montoya bridging up to Plaxton, and then the pair catching Solis on the first dirt descent. Solis broke away again before the final technical portion to solo in for second, and move up to fifth in the overall standings, while Plaxton and Montoya rode in together until the entrance to the TerraMall shopping centre where the stage ended.
"Paolo caught me and I sat on him, and we caught the Pizza Hut guy (Solis) on the downhill," explained Plaxton. "But he got a gap at the end of the section. Paolo and I rode together until the end, but we almost got taken out by a car near the finish; the roads were totally open to traffic. I was on his wheel going into the mall, but he had a pretty good kick."
Despite his win, Ramirez still isn't counting on his fourth title. "Tomorrow we will try to control the race, rather than attacking. The last downhill is very difficult, so I will be careful there and not take big chances."
- Sue Haywood finished strongly, with a time good enough for 29th in the men's division. She had a bit of scare in the middle of the stage, when Louise Kobin caught up to her on the main climb. "She caught me just before Checkpoint 3; she was riding awesome on the steep stuff. I was a little worried, because it was hard not knowing what was coming up. So, I picked up the pace a bit and dropped her with a little gap." (Note: It turned out to be a 9:36 gap)
Haywood was also less than enthusiastic about the final technical descent. "It was stupid. How disappointing is it to climb that much and have to walk most of the downhill."
- Canadians continue to do well in a number of categories. Kris Sneddon (Kona) followed up yesterday's 10th place performance with 15th today, and is now 13th overall, two spots (and 3:37) ahead of Plaxton. Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) finished one spot behind Sneddon and is 23rd overall, while Cory Wallace (Freewheel Jasper) was 21st for the stage (19th on GC) and Jon Nutbrown (Ridley's-Giant) was 25th for stage 2 and 22nd overall.
In the Master A Men category, the top Canadian was Warren Ellis (NRG-Eagle Homes), 12th on the stage and 7th overall. In Master B Men, Mike Charuk (Team Whistler) was third on the stage and leads the overall by a slim three seconds. In Veteran Men, Canadians are 1-2, with Tony Routley (Team Whistler) taking his second stage over countryman Sandy Mitchell (Gerick Cycle). Routley leads Mitchell in the overall standings by a hefty 27:46 margin - his GC time would be good enough for 24th in the Open Men's race. Denis Mizerski (Mattamy Homes-Aquila Racing) was third in Vets after stage one, but injured his foot, and dropped out today at Checkpoint 1.
|1 Federico Ramirez Mendez (CRC) BCR-Pizza Hut-Powerade-KHS||3:50:00|
|2 Juan Alberto Solis Rodas (CRC) BCR-Pizza Hut-Powerade-KHS||at 4:17|
|3 Paolo Montoya Cantillo (CRC) Macosta Lee Cougan Santa Ana BCT||4:43|
|4 Max Plaxton (CAN) Rocky Mountain-Haywood||4:48|
|5 Enrique Artavia Cedeira (CRC) Super Pro Banco BCT Santa Ana||13:59|
|6 Thomas Dietsch (FRA) Gewiss Bianchi||14:00|
|7 Sandro Spaeth (SUI) Ride Magazine - Texner BMC||15:03|
|8 David "Tinker" Juarez (USA) Cannondale||15:22|
|9 Deiber Esquivel Benavides (CRC) IBP Pensiones||25:22|
|10 Manuel Prado (CRC) Sho Air / La Ruta||27:04|
|13 Jason Sager (USA) MonaVie/Cannondale||29:45|
|15 Kris Sneddon (CAN) Kona||34;04|
|16 Andreas Hestler (CAN) Rocky Mountain / Haywood Securities||41:46|
|17 Chucky Gibson (USA) Tahitian Noni International||42:25|
|20 Brandon Dwight (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||55:08|
|21 Cory Wallace (CAN) Team Jasper||59:30|
|24 Rom Kanga Akerson (USA) Rock Shox - SRAM||1:01:02|
|25 Jon Nutbrown (CAN) Ridley's/Giant||1:03:15|
|26 Jason First (USA) Crank Brothers||1:03:48|
|28 Brian Cimmiyotti (USA) Scott's cycle and sport/sigma management||1:06:16|
|30 Timmy Dougherty (USA) BearNaked / Cannondale||1:20:14|
|1 Sue Haywood (USA) Trek-VW||5:06:39|
|2 Louise Kobin (USA) Sho Air-Rock and Road||at 9:36|
|3 Maria Carvajal Brenes (CRC) BCR-Pizza Hut-Powerade-KHS||34:48|
|Master A Men|
|1 Will Valverde (CRC) Vedova y Obando||4:31:45|
|2 Thomas Spannring (AUT) Monavie-Cannondale||at 6:18|
|3 William Vargas (CRC) Scott||9:35|
|12 Warren Ellis (CAN) NRG-Eagle Homes||32:52|
|20 Michel Bujold (CAN) Lessard Cycle||48:43|
|27 Jeffery Cote (CAN) Twinsix||1:00:30|
|28 Ron Ellis (CAN) Eagle Homes||1:00:36|
|Master B Men|
|1 Fernando Salazar (CRC) Nitidos||5:03:46|
|2 Stewart Stafford (USA) Austin Flyers-BSS||at 0:52|
|3 Mike Charuk (CAN) Team Whistler||4:47|
|1 Tony Routley (CAN) Team Whistler||5:04:28|
|2 Sandy Mitchell (CAN) Gerick Cycle||at 9:35|
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