Specialized rider Todd Wells is one of the top mountain bike racers in the World. Wells is also the reigning U.S. cyclocross national champion. Despite being the nations top cyclocross racer, Wells has decided to shift his focus this fall. Instead of defending his cross title Wells will take on the 4-day Costa Rican mountain bike race La Ruta De Los Conquistadors.
While Todd has limited experience in ultra-endurace mountain bike races he is the 2011 Leadville 100 champion and takes years of mountain bike experience into one of the most grueling mountain bike races in existence.
Todd takes a minute to sit down with us and answer some questions about his change in focus this fall and his expectations heading into his first mountain bike stage race. Read Todd's full interview below.
MTB Race News - Why the drastic change in
focus? You have been so committed to cyclocross for the past few seasons, now
you are taking it in a totally different direction.
Todd Wells - I have focused on CX in
the fall for as long as I can remember. Now cross is starting earlier and going
later so it's hard for me to do a whole season and the CX field is becoming
much more focused. I don't feel like I can concentrate on MTB and do a serious
cross season as well. With Nationals getting bumped back 1 month later and the
MTB World Cup starting 1 month earlier I won't be able to keep racing through Nationals
so I decided to take on a new challenge. I am still racing as many cross races
this season as in the past, but I will be stopping earlier and integrating the
La Ruta stage race as well. I have never been to Costa Rica before and La Ruta
seems like the perfect way to experience the country.
MTB Race News - Will you try to defend
your cyclocross national championship this year?
Todd Wells - No, it's too late in the
season for me to compete in and be ready to go for the MTB World Cup in March.
MTB Race News - Did nationals being moved
to January influence your decision?
Todd Wells - Yes. With Nationals
getting bumped back a month and our MTB WC starting 1 month earlier I can't do
both and the MTB is main focus.
MTB Race News - Why chose La Ruta?
Todd Wells - I have never been to
Costa Rica and La Ruta is the perfect excuse to go. It is a very big
international race but not too long, only 4 days where as a race like the Cape
Epic is 8. It is at a time of the year where it doesn't really matter if I come
out of it smoked or not and is a good way to "dip my toe" into MTB
MTB Race News -, Who will be your biggest
threat? The cannondale team with Bishop and Alex Grant are always tough down
there and last year's winner Ben Sonntag will be back.
Todd Wells - There are plenty of great
riders that will be competing there. I have never done a long MTB stage race
before so I have no idea if I can even compete in them so I think it will be a
big learning experience for me. I'm more worried about how my body will react
rather then thinking about the other riders.
MTB Race News - What are you more nervous
about at La Ruta, the mud or the railroad tracks?
Todd Wells - Probably the mud and
getting sick from animal poop in the mud that gets on the bottles. Since I have
never done it I am going in blind so my answer might be different after the
MTB Race News - You have the luxury of
taking any bike Specialized has to offer, which one will you be going with?
Todd Wells - That is true and the
great thing is I will choose which bike to race based on the stage. I will be
bringing both my S-Works Stumpjumper 29er and S-Works Epic 29er. I've heard
there are certain days that are better for a hard tail and others that are
better for full-suspension so I'm going to bring both. Everyone says the bikes
get destroyed from all the mud so it will be great to have a fresh bike each
MTB Race News - Is your goal to win and
if so, what is your plan to make it happen?
Todd Wells - I would love to win but I
don't know if that's a reality. I don't know how I will recover day to day, I
have never done the event before and the racers are top notch. Endurance racing
isn't my speciality but I will try my best each day.
think there have been only 4 non-natives to win the race and I don't know if
any had done it on their first try, even Frishi took a few times before he
cracked La Ruta.
said I have been trying to adapt my training to be ready for the longer days of
La Ruta while still trying to maintain some speed for cyclocross. I fear I will
end up being O.K. at both but not great at either but it's all a learning
experience for me.
MTB Race News - How will doing these long
endurance races impact your run up to the 2012 Olympics?
Todd Wells - Racing La Ruta won't have
much of an impact on the 2012 Olympics. I train longer days then we will race
in La Ruta every winter. I'm hoping it gives me motivation to stay leaner a little
longer since I usually put on some weight during the CX season since I don't
have to worry about any climbing. I always liked stage racing on the road so I'm
just excited to see how it goes on the MTB.
MTB Race News - Are you planning to tie
La Ruta into your usual off-season tradition of spending a few weeks on the
Todd Wells - I am planning on hitting
the beach for a few days after La Ruta but won't tie that into my normal winter
vacation. I will be racing the USGP in Louisville, Kentucky, the weekend after
La Ruta so my winter break won't start in earnest until after my final CX race
for the year, Jingle Cross. Any excuse to go to the beach is good enough for