Manuel Prado won the La Ruta de la Conquistadores on Saturday, his first victory at the grueling stage race across Costa Rica after six attempts.
Louise Kobin won the women’s field in 22:21:58. It was her fourth overall victory at La Ruta. She was followed by Adriana Rojas and Emma Smith.
Prado, a Costan Rican racer with California-based Team ShoAir/Specialized, won the first stage of the race on Wednesday. His overall time was 18:31:52. American Alex Grant, Cannondale Monavie, finished second overall at 18:31:52 and Economy-Citi-Blue’s Dieber Esquivel of Costa Rica was third at 18:33:39.
Rounding out the top five were Spain’s Marc Thayter and US motorcycle champion-turned cyclist Benjamin Bostrom of ShoAir.
Scott Tedro, founder of Team ShoAir, was at a USA Cycling meeting in Colorado on Saturday. He said news of Prado’s victory left him both “emotional” and “speechless.” Prado was the only bicycle shop employ that came forward to help an overweight guy looking to buy a bike years ago in Southern California. The hefty guy at the time was Tedro, who soon established a friendship with the young Costa Rican built around mountain biking.
“Manny is the reason why I started (Team ShoAir). He said it was his dream to be a pro cross-country racer,” Tedro said. “After six times at La Ruta, he’s earned it.”
As for Bostrom’s strong showing, Tedro said he wasn’t surprised by the former American Motorcycle Association Superbike champion’s ability.
“Benjamin Bostrom is a world-class athlete. He’s not just a motorcycle superstar,” said Tedro, adding that Bostrom told him that he’s already planning on a serious run for a La Ruta victory in 2010.
Other top-ten notables included Jeremiah Bishop, Benjamin Sonntag and four-time Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras of Spain finishing seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.