Thousands of fans lined up the streets of Heredia, San Jose for the last stage of the Vuelta. 11 laps of a challenging urban circuit was the last opportunity for all riders to stamp their mark on the race.

By Jean-Michel Lachance

The last days, I often tease the guys saying the last stage was only going to be a "parade" like the champs elysées in the Tour de France. This circuit was everything but a parade. Each lap had a 1km climb at 6% grade before a fast downhill to the finish. 

Cory and Stephen with a special fan: He give the team a 5 colones billet. (To give you an idea, 500 colon is around a 1$)

On our side, I told the riders to be aggressive as it was our last chance of a result. A breakaway didn't took long to get a gap on the peloton, but none of our riders was in it. The race was hard and fast as each laps saw riders dropping off the back. Anton once again had bad luck with a flat tire early in the race and then unable to connect to the peloton. 

Still 3rd in the Meta Volante classification (intermediate sprint), his overall performance would come down to luck or lack of instead of him able to defend his position. Me, Isaac and Victor were in the car following the race and were a bit anxious as Jonathan Salinas of Venezueal won the first 2 sprints, making him only a point from equality with Anton with one last sprint in the race. Thankfully, he didn't score any points in the last sprint and Anton kept his 3rd place.

As predicted, a rider from the breakaway, Paul Betancourt won the race as Cory was our top rider finishing in the slim peloton. 

Overall, Ride for the Planet is happy about the performance of the team with a stage win and 3 riders out of five completing the challenging stage race.

From left to right: Victor Hernandez (DS), Jean-Michel Lachance (team manager for the project), Anton Varabei, Cory Wallace, Stephen Keeping, Isaac Cruz)

Memories from 2013 resurfaced

Two years ago, I crashed hard on the last stage of the race when the wheel of the rider in front of me exploded, catapulting his bike in front of me. I wasn't able to avoid it and crashed at speed around 75km/h. I had several burns all over the body but managed to complete the remaining 40km gritting my tooth. The next day, the newspaper Nacion highlighted it and so numerous social medias like this post who went viral with hundreds of shares and likes.

Well, last night, my social medias exploded, once again. Many fans thought the accident happened this year and start commenting and sharing it again. Today, at the circuit, dozens of fans were asking about me and if I would start the stage! When fans saw me with no rash, they were quite surprise and I explained that it happened 2 years ago and that I wasn't racing this year due to my broken elbow a month ago.

The funny part of all this is the comments! Cycling and football fans don't seams to get along so well in Costa Rica. Here are some of them:

Valiente y con hormonas de sobra! A un jugador de bola de nuestro gran campeonato de fútbol con un golpecito y pide cambio y sale llorando! En cambio los ciclistas definitivamente : RAZA APARTE!

Brave and with hormones to spare! A football player with a small tap leaves crying and begging for change! Instead the cyclists keep going: BREED APART!

Que aprendan esos que dicen ser futbolistas que con un simple empujon estan llorando esto si es un deportista sudando su camiseta grande

Learn those claiming to be footballplayers with a simple push are crying. This one is really a great athlete sweating his jersey

Demasiados huevos un respeto Dios quiera que se recupere 

Too much balls, respect, god wish him to recover.

Excelente y de admirar. Me gustaria que le enseñe a los futbolistas de este pais que son puro teatro lo que son ... para practicar un deporte

Excellent and to admire. I would like him to teach the football players from our country that they are simply acting... to practice a sport

Definitivo que en el futbol se necesita solo una bola para practicarlo, en el ciclismo dos, mas el corage de acero!

Definitely, in football, you only need one ball, in cycling,m you need two, plus a iron courage.

Stage results:
1) Paul Betancourt - 2h32:51
2) Carlos Galvis +00sec
3) Roman Villalobos +58sec
21) Cory Wallace +1min48
47) Stephen Keeping +11min50

1) Juan Carlos Rojas - 34h29:16
2) Roman Villalobos +17 sec
3) Josue Gonzalez +2min19
36) Cory Wallace +2h02:11
60) Stephen Keeping + 3h20:13
63) Anton Varabei + 3h35:01

1) Jonathan Salinas - 112
2) Roman Villalobos - 101
3) Joseph Chavarria - 94
10) Anton Varabei - 51

Meta Volantes:
1) Gabriel Marin - 37
2) Carlos Brenes - 20
3) Anton Varabei - 19

Video recap

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