TURRIALBA, Costa Rica (VN) — It was the Attack of the Ticos as soon as stage 2 rolled off the start line at La Ruta de los Conquistadores on Friday in Tres Rios.
Costa Rica’s Dennis Porras soloed to victory in the 49-mile stage, which included ascending nearly 10,000 feet up a volcano, in 3:39:26.
“Yesterday was a very harsh stage. We tried to keep our pace, not to lose too much time,” Porras said. “Today we tried to fight for the time we were missing.”
For Porras, who fought from the get-go, the victory was a fine way to celebrate his 23rd birthday. He was followed by fellow Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” Enrique Artavia and Lico Ramirez at 1:26 and 4:04, respectively.
“At the start of the stage I saw racers hurt from yesterday’s stage,” Porras said. “Therefore my plan was to sprint from the start. I felt very strong and we started setting the pace, yet not losing the calm.”
Defending La Ruta champ Todd Wells, who was sitting in second place going into the stage, was one of those feeling the brunt of stage 1. He dropped to fifth place and is now more than 19 minutes off race leader and stage-1 winner Paolo Montoya.
“Today was just very bad. I couldn’t stay with the guys from the beginning,” Wells said. “It was just a painful day for me.”
When asked if he would contend for a stage victory on Saturday’s third and final day, Wells said he would be all in, but couldn’t speak for his legs come Saturday morning.
“I would love to win tomorrow, but if I’m anything like yesterday or today it will be tough,” he said.
With one stage to go on Saturday, two-time La Ruta runner-up Alex Grant finds himself again in second place. But he will have to battle Porras for the spot, as the 2012 stage-two winner is now just 13 seconds behind the American in third.
“It was a concerted effort by (Porras) who went off the front all day. It was very impressive. That was a big effort from him.”
After winning stage 1 on Thursday and finishing fourth on Friday, Montoya leads the general classification going into Saturday’s final stage. He is 13 minutes and 15 seconds ahead of Grant with a total time of 8:45:34.
Versus the volcano
On Friday’s stage 2, riders took on the 10,000-foot Irazú Volcano, and it was hardly stereotypical Costa Rican weather on the upper reaches. A wet fog made visibility difficult and it was just plain cold. Adding to the mix is an approximately 13km descent on extremely sketchy, rocky jeep track.
“On the downhill I rode the best I could,” Grant said. “It was foggy. I couldn’t see. I didn’t want to have any issues; I didn’t want to get lost. I did the best I could.”
For women’s race leader Pua Mata, the trip up and down the volcano was just another day of discovery at her first La Ruta.
“This stage definitely worked you. It was hard but the goal was just to keep a steady pace,” Mata said, adding that she descended with great care.
“My arms and hands were really tired. I had someone in front of me to see his line. I stayed safe. It’s an easy place to get hurt. I stayed in one place. But you know what? It is beautiful up there. But it’s hard.”
La Ruta, stage 3
Saturday, November 3
44 miles: Siquirres to Limón, on the Caribbean: There’s not much elevation gain in the final stage of La Ruta, but there are several of the notorious train-trestle river crossings to make things difficult.