Posted by Editoress on 10/10/08
Will a Road Cyclist Win La Ruta?
Courtesy La Ruta de los Conquistadores
There is no question about it mountain biking is getting more popular among the world's cycling community.
Not only have avid career mountain bikers entered some of the most famous events of the specialty over the past few years but "roadies" have also turned their eyes to epic challenges such as La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
The 2008 La Ruta will be no exception. Among the pro and amateur field traditionally composed of some of the most recognized local and international mountain bike riders, spectators will also have the opportunity to cheer on some accomplished road racers.. competitors who are more accustomed to the smell of hot asphalt than the taste of dust and the shine of wet rocks.
This year's UCI's TT World Championships silver medalist, Canadian Svein Tuft, has confirmed his spot on the start line for November 12th, when La Ruta kicks off in Jacó Beach, on the Pacific shore.
Next to him will be former La Vuelta three time winner Roberto Heras, who has returned to cycling after a two year absence. The Spanish climber recently won the Titan Desert MTB Marathon in Morocco, showing he has the skills and strength for mountain biking too.
Tuft might show his sprinting and TT abilities on the last stage, from Turrialba to Limón. This fourth and final leg is the flattest and longest of the whole event with extended sections on paved roads, allowing cyclists to set their "Tour" strategy in order to grab the the possibility of a stage win.
On his side, Heras is going to try to prove why he's still to be considered one of the best climbers in the history of cycling. Stages one, two and three are similar to what he is accustomed to on the Alps and the Pyrenees.
The muddy and humid climbs of day 1 across the Carara National Park may prove be the hardest test for him, while the climbing to Copalchi on day 2 and to the slopes of the Irazu Volcano on day 3 will give Roberto a chance to show his climber's talent.
As for the mountain bike specialists, French Thomas Diestch (Gewiss-Bianchi) has confirmed his intention to try it one more time to win La Ruta. He recently finished second overall at the UCI's Marathon World Cup just behind his teammate and former la Ruta champion, Colombian Leonardo Páez. Diestch was third overall in last years' La Ruta and won the final stage.
After winning the 2008 Trans Rockies in Canada, Italians Marzio Deho and Johnny Cattaneo take the challenge of the tropical conditions of La Ruta . Deho first came to La Ruta in 2006, finishing 5th in the Open Men's category.
For the local field, defending champion Federico Ramírez (BCR-Pizza Hut) will return to defend his title and try confirm himself as the record-man of La Ruta with his fifth trophy.
Other pro Costa Rican riders at the start will be Paolo Montoya, Manuel Prado and Deiber Esquivel. These racers will be the local hope to recover the "Ticos" domination of the past.
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