The 21st edition of the jungle epic known as La Ruta de los Conquistadores starts Thursday in Jaco, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, and finishes Saturday in Playa Bonita, on the Caribbean.
A new climb of the Irazu volcano — and a field that includes Todd Wells (Specialized) and Alex Grant (Sho-Air-Cannondale) — stand between Costa Rican Paolo Montoya (Frijoles Los Tierniticos-Bicicletas Focus) and a defense of his 2012 men’s elite title. American Pua Mata (Sho-Air) will ride to repeat her 2012 victory — and enjoy the race across Central America.
“This year I’m here to enjoy it all, the people and every moment, I will race from my heart, the fastest and strongest I can, always caring for my safety to race intelligently,” Mata said in a press release.
The new climb of Irazu, which covers unpaved roads, should present a new challenge to the 437 riders toeing the line this week.
“The change was made so that the route will have more trails, thus making it more difficult,” said race organizer Roman Urbina. “Those four kilometers are uphill, in grassy terrain, which will definitely have an impact on every athlete and can even define the winner of the stage.”
2013 La Ruta de los Conquistadores
Oct. 24: Day 1 Jacó to El Rodeo, 100km
Oct. 25: Day 2 Terramall-CATIE Turrialba, 86km
Oct. 26: Day 3 CATIE Turrialba to Playa Bonita, 121km