Duran, Mata win opener at La Ruta

Mata jumps out to 36-minute lead on first day of 2013 La Ruta

Marconi Durán and Pua Mata rode away with day one wins at La Ruta de los Conquistadores on Thursday in El Rodeo, Costa Rica.

Durán (Coopenae-Movistar) beat out Americans Todd Wells (Specialized) and Alex Grant (Sho-Air-Cannondale), second and third, respectively. Wells finisehd 11:14 behind the Costa Rican, with Grant one second back.

Thursday was Durán’s first at La Ruta.

“Years ago I wanted to race in La Ruta, and I had not had the chance to do so. Thank God I could do it this year and start off with the right foot. I want to dedicate my victory to my team that has been supporting me all the way,” he said. “I wasn’t one of the favorites, so I decided, along with Jonathan and Deiber, to ride hard. I think that because no one expected me to win, the first ones let me take an advantage very easily, one or one minute and a half, and I believe that’s what helped me make such good time in Carara. We knew we were going to have an advantage in Carara where it was mostly walking.”

Defending champion Paolo Montoya (Frijoles Los Tierniticos-Bicicletas Focus) was fourth, at 18:59.

Mata essentially locked up the women’s race, finishing 36:34 ahead of Costa Rica’s Adriana Rojas. American Cheryl Sornson was third, at 47:07.

“Being this is my second year here, it was easier, because I had an idea of what was to come,” said Mata. “Still it was a huge challenge. After the first climb I lost sight of everyone, but I don’t feel like the winner, because everyone here is a winner just by taking on the challenge. Anything can happen in this race, from falling to having bad nutrition and having to quit.”

The 21st La Ruta de los Conquistadores continues Friday with the 86-kilometer second day, from Terramall to CATIE Turrialba.