Montoya wins at La Ruta, Mata puts women’s race out of reach

Alex Grant moves to second and Todd Wells dips out of contention with a flat

Defending champion Paolo Montoya (Frijoles Los Tierniticos-Focus) won the second day of La Ruta de Los Conquistadores in Turrialba, Costa Rica, on Friday, besting stage 1 winner Marconi Durán (Coopenae-Movistar) by 1:19 in the 100-kilometer race.

American Alex Grant (Sho-Air-Cannondale) was third on the stage, which took in a new, unpaved ascent of the Irazu volcano.

Durán defended his overall lead with one day of racing remaining. Grant moved into second, 11:31 behind the Costa Rican. Montoya moved to third, 17:40 back. Todd Wells (Specialized) flatted and dropped to fifth overall, more than 40 minutes down.

“Obviously, since the beginning I decided to take a defensive approach, today was do or die for me and so I gave my best,” said Montoya. “I suffered a little in the high parts that came after the new addition to the stage, and I lost a little bit of time that I had gained on them. I was the first one to begin the descent, in which they caught up to me a little more, but in the last part when I knew I had a chance to win I gave all I had to lower my times.”

Overall leader Pua Mata (Sho-Air) won again in the women’s division, topping Adriana Rojas and Cheryl Sornson for a second day in a row. Mata took the win by 25:19, extending her overall lead over Rojas to 1:01:53.

“The hardest part of today was the new part because it was really steep, and I didn’t know what to expect so I was riding very cautiously,” said Mata. “I don’t know tomorrow’s first part, so again I don’t know what to expect. I’m really scared of the bridges, so I still don’t feel like the winner because anything can happen. I haven’t felt so good this year compared to last year; this year I got injured and although I’m not at my best, I am trying my hardest.”

The 21st La Ruta de Los Conquistadores continues Saturday with the final-stage 121km trek through the heat from Turrialba to Playa Bonita in Limón, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.