December 23, 2015 – Here are reports for stages 4-8 from Team Ride for the Planet as they compete at the Vuelta a Costa Rica. The top Canadian is David Drouin (Can) Ride For the Planet, who is ranked 31st in the GC after eight of 11 stages. Check out the team’s reports and videos as they near the end of a challenging tour. Full results here.
Stage 4 – 103km from Puntarenas to Grecia and first big mountain stage
Jean-Michel: Last night, I warned the guys. The real mountain begins tomorrow! Two years ago, I achieved my best performance in a mountain stage finishing in fourth in a similar stage finishing with the same climb. But for that to happen, I had to be in a breakaway with a huge gap before the hill ! The stage was 170km long and a big group broke away at the beginning. I missed it, but chase with 2 others to make junction at the 50km mark and our group had 10min before the big climb. Juan Carlos Rojas, who was in the peloton managed to reduced that 10min gap. I managed a 4th place, winning the sprint of my group, but had I did’nt go in that break, I would have been way further back.
Well, today didn’t disappoint. The heat was more manageable than the previous days and our tactic was simple. The stage had 40km of flat at the beginning where no breakaways was going to go away in my opinion. David was 3rd on the u23 classification and a fairly good climber, we decided to have the team position him as best as they could before the climb. David did good finishing in 38th 16min back:
David: The first kilometers were fast and nervous. I did try an attack in the first hill, but that did’nt work out. Afterward, I tried to follow the leading group as long as possible. I was not able to follow the pace of the costa rican climbers (35km/h in 7-8% grade). I got myself in a little group of 7 and finished in 38th while keeping some strength for the next stages. My teammates all finished in the numerous groups after me, but unfortunately Emile arrived outside time limite. I wanted to thank him for helping me on stage 2. Tomorrow is a hard uphill time trial, but I’ll give 100% as usual!
Stage 5 – Today we had an uphill time trial from Naranjo to Zarcero. David Drouin was the top rider from Ride for the Planet in 38th.
by Cory Wallace
Stage 5 of the Vuelta de Costa Rica was a 20 km uphill time trial from the village of Naranjo to Zaccero. It was as fun as such a thing could be although trying to chase down Ticos who were getting pushed by the fans up every steep section made an already challenging race that much tougher. We finished below a church in the fresh air of a cool little Costa Rican village. My teammate David and I had a the bright idea riding back to our San Jose hotel with our team director JML and our teammate Emile who missed the time cut in stage 4 after battling stomach eruption issues for a couple days. The 70 km ride back was sweet under sunny skies although it turned into a bit of a mission after JML’s GPS lead us off track and down a 300 meter vertical descent in the wrong direction. Once back on track David called it a day as the rolling terrain was turning the 2 hour ride into a 3.5-4 hr mission. David spent the next 2 hours waiting at a corner store for our team staff to pick him up and was mobbed by the locals who wanted pictures and autographs from our tired teammate. Later on the ride back we lost JML in a maze of intersections and soon Emile and I were a bit lost, hopping onto the median of the pan american highway trying to snake our way across and back to the hotel for some recovery. 5 hours of riding after the time trial started we were finally back at the hotel for a night of rest.
The rest day was a rest day with lots of rice and beans, a small ride to my buddy Ronald and Angelas for a mid morning snack and a quick visit to University of Peace.
Stage 6 – After a well deserved rest day, stage 6 was 175km from Santa Ana to Limon on the Atlantic coast.
by Cory Wallace
We waved Emile goodbye as he was hopping a jet plane back to Canada and we were headed 175 km down the highway to the port town of Limon on the Carribean coast. It was a weird stage as we raced flat out for 40 km through big crowds in downtown San Jose before hitting a gentle climb into a headwind up to 1600 M and into the rainforests of Braulio Carillo National Park. Here we stopped racing for an hour as they decided to neutralize the 40 km descent as a thick fog, slippery road surface and poles in the middle of the road would’ve surely lead to chaos. Once down the sketchy descent in the inspiring rainforest, the race resumed with 100 km of flat roads to Limon. The pack was hammering this section and at times the rain came down like waterfalls as we trudged towards the finish line in the sketchiest town of Costa Rica. Our teammate Stephen was in the top 5 with 200 meters to go before jamming his chain and losing his chance at glory on the day.
Right after the finish we took a look around at our surroundings and headed straight to our beach hotel 5 km out of town for the night. It was a neat little hotel perched in the rainforest above the crashing carribean sea below. At this hotel things got interesting as the leading Yellow jersey team and the team of the two time defending champion Juan Carlos Rojas got into a brawl after dinner. You’d expect this at a hockey game but generally not in the evening after a bike race. These guys were serious though and guys ended up in the hospital, cops were called in and it was outright mayhem.
Stage 7 – From Limon to Guapiles, stage 7 was mostly rainy. Cory and David from Ride for the Planet team were in the move.
by Cory Wallace
After the altercation the evening before, Stage 7 started with the Yellow Jersey team protesting the race and pulling themselves from the competition. I don’t know the whole story behind it so won’t make any assumptions or uneducated comments on this. It was a sad day for the race nonetheless to lose the competition from this team. The race itself was a flat day as we raced 135 km back up the Caribbean coast to the town of Guappiles. The day started with a flurry of attacks and eventually a lead group of 10 was off the front, another chase group of 8 including my teammate David was in no mans land and then myself and two other riders opted to get into the action. The 3 of us would chase for 1.5 hours and finally catch Davids group to make a chase group of 11. This is where road racing gets weird as only 4 out of the 11 of us were doing any work in the group as the other guys just sat on. After all the effort attacking to get up the road I don’t understand why these guys would just want to cruise all of a sudden. Nonetheless we eventually got caught by the main peloton about 15 km from the finish and then the guys that just sat in the peloton all day out of the action had the freshest legs for the sprint. Road racing is a weird game when your use to the pureness of mountain biking in which results are generally reflective of who has the best fitness and can grit there teeth the hardest. After the finish we road around trying to find our team car and then we drove and road around trying to find the hotel for the night. We did circles around town for an hour before coming to our home for the night. Eventually we settled in for the normal afternoon routine of rice and beans, massages, naps, more rice and beans, and then finding a way to clean our laundry. On top of eating rice and beans the Ticos serve us a different coloured sugary drink with every meal. Today was the green one, we think its kiwi juice but no one really ever knows. Tomorrow its back to the mountains.
Stage 8 – From Guapiles to Tuccuriques, stage 7 was another big mountain stage that promise to be a hard one.
by Stephen Keeping
We started stage 7 once again in the heat but with the threat of rain rolling in and some big climbs ahead, it was going to be a rough day. Almost 2,000m of elevation gain on the day meant it was one for the climbers. Starting in the town of Guápiles and climbing up into the region of Tucurriques we exited the circuits and flew towards the base of the first climb. Unfortunately my bad luck continued as I flatted at the base of the climb on a fast decent. After a wheel change and a second stop for a break adjustment I gave it all I had to get back in but ended up waving goodbye. I hooked up with the last group on the road as my teammates battled away up the road. Climbing with these guys is a mission in its self. Most people think being in the groupetto means an easy day at the back but I’ve yet to experience this. Fighting to make time cut is never fun but at least the scenery was beautiful and some screaming fans made it more manageable. Kudos to the boys and staff once again. A few days left to go and a few more hills to climb, but we’re getting close.