Posted by Editoress on 01/6/14
The Canadian team of 1% for the Planet raced at the Vuelta Costa Rica over the Christmas period, and sent us a number of reports. On the team were: Gavriel Epstein, Jean-Michel Lachance, Ryan Roth, Étienne Samson, Anton Varabei, and Julien Gagné. Here are the reports for the final two stages (11 and 12).
With an undulating profile slightly going down and a 40 kilometre distance, this one was for the specialists or the one with the legs.
Ryan Roth had marked the time trial since the beggining of the race and had high expectation. Ryan didn't disappoint, posting the best marks on almost every time split. Ryan was leading the competition until a super fast Rojas [the overall race leader] bested his time by more than a minute. With his performance, Rojas also grabed the Regularidad lead over Jean-Michel by 15 points. One more podium for Ryan and only one stage left in the Vuelta Kolbi a Costa Rica !
Ryan: "I didn't know the course so I couldn't give it all on the climbs, but in the end I put on a good effort."
Jean-Michel: "My aspiration for the Regularidad jersey are now over. Realistically, I needed to get more points over Rojas today as tomorow is the hardest mountain stage and he will likely win it too. Second place in such a classification is still very good for me and I will try to defend my 13th place on GC tomorrow."
After an early morning with a transition, the team finally arrived to the start of the race where Jean-Michel found a bike to start the race (his frame broke the day before going to the bakery). With an integrated seat post of 76.4 cm it was a bit too high for Jean-Michel, who usually rides 75.5 cm, but it was still more safe than riding a broken frame, especially with the descent to San José.
The race started well for the team. Jean-Michel, who was in fourth place in the Metas Volante classification, had the opportunity to climb one step if he won the last intermediate sprint of the race at Kilometre 30, right before the climb started.
Jean-Michel: "After 15 kilometres, I took the opportunity and attack to get the last meta volante. I was joined by the Mexican Carlos Lopez, the Russian Ershov and a Pizza Hut rider, and no one contested me the sprint. We also enjoyed a small gap of close to a minute to start the climb. 45 kilometres long, the climb was very steady and I did not try to follow when Rojas passed me on the big ring. A few kilometers laters, a larger group lead by Coopenae Gregory Brenes for his teammate Bonilla caught me and I could follow. Ryan was also in that group."
Ryan and Jean-Michel did a good operation being in that group as the whole Coopenae team set up a very steady tempo up the climb.
Jean-Michel: "My bike was definitely not comfortable being 1cm too high, but I was happy to be in the group and securing therefore my 13th place in the general classification."
Up the road, it was the Rojas festival. Juan Carlos put the hammer on the race and reached the top of the climb more than 20 minutes ahead of the Ryan and Jean-Michel group. Things were looking good though for Jean-Michel and Ryan as the group was making ground in the descent and in the flat sections down to San José.
However, 45 kilometres from the finish the bike of the Costa Rican rider Isaac Morera broke while going at a speed exceeding 70km/h.
Jean-Michel: "With the neutral bike, I was not as comfortable and so I stayed last of the group in the descent. The crash happen very fast, I hear a rubbing noise coming from the Pizza Hut rider about 10 metres in front of me on my left. He then did a front flip. At that moment, I still thought I had a chance to get through fine but his bike went airborn in my direction. I then crashed pretty hard."
"At first, the pain was violent and I thought I had broken something, but a few minutes later, it went away and I asked for my bike to finish the race. The injuries were painfull but luckily the rest of the stage was mostly descending and with thousands of spectators cheering in the last kilometres, it adds up to the motivation. When I reach the finish line, I was immediately attended by first aid to clean the cuts and put ice on my eye."
"Later in the day, I received literally hundreds of support messages from Costa Ricans who were impressed by my finish. I feel very touched by the support and thank the Costa Rican people for loving cycling so much. This year, I had the opportunity to do a big road block, which I had never done in my life before and I enjoyed the best form of my life during those two weeks of racing, so this is a great motivation for 2014."
"The rest of the team had a good day all finishing the last stage of the Vuelta, an exploit for our team! In the end, Team 1% for the Planet, was one of the most active teams, with nothing less than 7 podiums finish [second to race leader JPS Giant], including one win and five second places. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the race and Team For the Planet hope to go back again on the podium one step higher when possible."
Gavriel Epstein: "Today was a beast! 3500m of climbing at altitude. The Vuelta was a good experience and eye opening to what it is to race for two weeks!"
Ryan Roth: "I had a good time, good group of guys, I don't know if I would do it again, but I definitely enjoyed it."
Etienne Samson: "The Vuelta was my first UCI race three years ago, and I always wanted to come back and finish, and I did it. I am very happy."
Anton Varabei: "It was Epic. It was hard and [the] longest/highest climb to date. Enjoyed the climb a lot, not too steep, steady and never ending. Descent was complete garbage and only thing that was disappointing. Was hoping to fly thru it, but it was all rough and bumpy, and with some unpredictable turns - we were bouncing all over the place and could hardly work together in a groupetto... never mind the crazy winds from all sides. And now I'm officially smoked, and glad it's over! Thanks for following! I will happily do this race all over again next year! Now I stay here in Costa Rica for another week, and will try to explore the country a little more. First step is the beach, which I have yet to see!"
Julien Gagné: "I loved my first experience of the Vuelta. I gained a lot of experience, it was hard and long, but I also had lot of fun."
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