November 12/05 8:57 am - La Ruta de los Conquistadores: Stage 2 Report
Posted by Editoress on 11/12/05
One day Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower) was up over six minutes, the next down by seven - that's La Ruta de los Conquistadores. After suffering 3 flats in the final run to the finish, Frischknecht finished fifth on stage two, while the stage winner, Marvin Campos of the powerful host Costa Rican squad IBP (an investment bank) avoided punctures and took both the stage win and the leader's jersey.
The stage profile was simple - climb for about 45 kilometres, up to 3010 metres, and then descend for 34 kilometres. Starting from the outskirts of San Jose, the course turned upwards almost immediately. Once clear of the city, riders turned onto progressively narrower, and muddier, trails. By the 10 kilometre mark a lead group had sorted itself out, containing Frischknecht, Campos, Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-VW), last year's La Ruta champion Paolo Cesar Montoya (Santa Ana), Eddy Perez (Bike Station) and Deiber Esquivel (IBP). 10 more kilometers into the race and the route went to pavement for the rest of the climb.
Esquivel attacked, and got a one minute plus gap on Frischknecht, who was playing it cautious with the altitude. Over the top of the climb and into the descent, it all began to go bad for the Marathon World Champion.
"I flatted three times on the descent. It was really disgusting - big rocks, basically we were riding down a river bed for 30 kilometres. I was told before 'no more than 5 kilometres of gravel, and then pavement'. No way!
"With the one guy in front, I was confident I could hold onto the lead. But after two flats I was out of inner tubes and cartridges, I had to wait for a long time to get a pump, and after that be very careful the rest of the way down.
"I was hoping after yesterday I could control the race, but I had those problems. It is hard to be at the front, to attack if you don't know what to expect. I am learning about La Ruta that it is maybe impossible to win your first time. It's so far out there, you don't know what to expect."
Frischknecht wasn't the only rider to flat, merely the most unlucky. Esquivel also flatted, as did Bishop (whose spare was flat also). The one rider who did not flat was Campos, who crested the climb behind Esquivel and Frischknecht. "I had some mechanical problems with my rear derailleur, but I was lucky and did not flat. The team support for me today was really strong, especially on the climb."
The result leaves Frischknecht 7:49 behind with one stage remaining - the longest at 126.4 kilometres. However, the last half of the race is basically flat as the race runs down to the Caribbean, so Campos' team should be able to control things.
"Seven minutes is a lot to get back, and they have six guys, so I don't think there is a lot of possibility." admitted Frischknecht.
Roddie Lega (Norco) was one rider who had no problem with the descent, finishing 8th. Lega began the day slowly, starting the downhill back in the 20's. He then proceeded to rocket through the field. "After yesterday was so bad, today was great! This was like the riding we do all the time out west, it was cool, it was fun. It was great bombing past guys at twice the speed they were going."
The leader in the women's category is Louise Kobin of San Jose, California, going for her third straight victory.
There are a few participants who deserve special mention: Dax Jaikel lost his right leg in a car accident (above the knee) last year he finished 113th overall. This year, a bolt broke on his prosthetic on the first stage and he could not finish, however, he started the second stage. His cycling prosthetic is of particular interest - a very slick carbon fibre and titanium unit.
Heart Akerson in the Vet category his riding his 8th La Ruta. He always rides in just shorts (not cycling shorts, cut-off jeans), to better "receive the emanations from Sol."
There is one tandem in the race this year, with a blind stoker. They are finishing mid-pack.