After two difficult days including the toughest climbing day, day three brought forth it's own feature of the event - the longest sustained climb and the highest altitude. The third day climbed Irazu volcano - one of the many volcanos found in Costa Rica and, a La Ruta staple.
The climb is approximately 30K in length and climbs 6000ft. vertical feet. And although the climb is composed mostly of road riding, it was a solid test of recovery and will power. Rising to 11,259 feet ( the riders reach approximately 10,000ft)., Irazu also takes the riders through several climate changes. Setting a tempo that could be sustained was the key to success in this stage. Once over the top it was all downhill to the finish, but again not without the La Ruta challenges. When you cross over the volcano you are now on the east side of the country and the climate is gauranteed to change. Day three was no different.
Covered in fog at the top of the climb, the roads were misty and cold which almost immediately turned to rain on the west facing slopes. The downhills were very rough and covered in mud and water. Some sections were so rough and steep they could have passed for downhill race sections. Throw in mud and slippery rocks, both volcanic in some sections and just plain old rocks in others, and you had one tough ride down.
Once out of the volcano's rainy micro-climate up top, the narrow dirt road downhills that meandered through the many agricultural farms, turned fast and eventually back into road. The ensuing descent through town was like riding a grand prix circuit of twisty roads. The shortest of all the race stages, the participants were warmly greated by the town of Turrialba amidst people cheering for riders throughout the day.
Looking ready and sporting the yellow leaders jersey, Todd Wells takes acknowledges the crowd.
Jeff Herrera of Costa Rica (previosly Arizona) gets mentally ready to tackle the Irazu volcano. Herrera is battling for the lead in the 30-39 age category.
A view from above the clouds near the top of Irazu volcano on day three of La Ruta. The racers would ride the road in the bottom left corner to reach this photo location.
The weather was beautiful on the east side of the mountains, but would turn to rain on the other side.
While outside support is not allowed, the locals have an advantage. The two riders in grey ride for a local road racing and not only got Coke -A- Cola from them, but received their help pacingup the long climb. Caught in the act here, one of the La Ruta contestants is scene giving back the cola drink to his road bike riding team mate.
Such severe climbs bring with them micro climate changes. These riders ride into the mist and fog. it will be a whle before they emerge back into the sunlight.
Tropical plant leaves that dwarf the riders, line this part of the course shortly before sending riders plummeting on the downhill.
Rain falls on one of the smoother parts of the downhill. When you ride in this dense jungle, glasses fog up, get muddy and your arms get tired of braking and hanging on so much.
Womens overall leader and eventual stage 3 winner, Adriana Rojas soloing through the steady rain and story book setting.
Riding in more storybook setting and in the continuous rain on the volcano's west side. The serious downhill section gets nasty just a half-mile from here.
STAGE 3 Results
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