With race day at GFNY Ecuador approaching, it’s time to get familiar with the course and start thinking about how you’ll tackle race day. It’s always worth some time to learn a bit about the race course you’ll be taking on, and prepare yourself mentally for the challenges to come. Strategy, nutrition, and pacing are all important concerns on race day, but they can only be done with proper knowledge of the course.
GFNY Ecuador is returning to the beautiful Pacific Coast city of Manta for the 3rd year in a row. The city of Manta’s Pacific Coastline is the last stop on land before the storied Galapagos Islands, and a natural wonder in its own right with amazing beaches and mountain rain forests. But in spite of all its natural beauty and all that Manta has to offer, the GFNY Ecuador course is very challenging. With some slight changes to the 2020 course, the 2021 course will be the best of all of the cycling challenges that Manta has to offer.
The 150 kilometer course has over 2,000 meters of climbing, so it will not be a “flat beach day”. The riders will have some wind challenges along the coast, but the main features of the course will be the rolling hills, the short but steep climbs, and the final 10 kilometer climb (known as “El Aromo”) before descending back to the coastline and the finish. So, let’s take a closer look at the course to help inform riders on how to tackle this natural wonder.
GFNY Ecuador starts in Manta close to Playa Murciélago, riding through a slightly rolling 7 kilometers the peloton will leave the sounds of the city of Manta behind them. Over the next 22 kilometers riders will want to stay focused to keep with the front groups, as the short rollers, while not steep, will separate the riders that are not paying close attention to the wheels in front of them.
The course will hug the Pacific Coastline here, and as with any coastal ride, staying with a group to fight the wind together will be the best move. Riders will know they are focused if they can stay with the group, but if and when the peloton starts to split, it will be best for riders to find a group that fits their pace and stay with that group to conserve energy for the long course ahead. Riders should grab a wheel and save their matches for later when they are really needed.
Descending 7 kilometers now will take the riders to San Lorenzo where there will be an aid station and the ability to refill bottles and take on food like nutrition bars or fruit. Riders should be sure to maintain their hydration and fuel throughout this challenging course.
San Lorenzo to Puerto Cayo
Upon leaving San Lorenzo, the riders will face a flat, but windy five kilometer stretch that is best managed by riding with a group. Staying with a group that matches each riders pace will ensure that riders don’t have to face the wind alone and use energy that will be needed later in the course. For this stretch of the course, riders will want to be on the left side of the rider in front of them to maximize the draft in the side wind.
For this part, it will be at the left side of the person in front of you. 40 kilometers into the race, the riders will face a 2 kilometer hill with some steep sections hitting up to 8% grades. These sections are short, so riders can attack these short bursts and still have some energy for later. With some rollers ahead, the 5 kilometers into the turn around are flat, but with wind from the coast. An aid station at the turnaround will allow riders to refuel and maintain their energy into the second half of the course. Riders should take advantage of this opportunity to continue to hydrate and take on additional food if needed.
Back to San Lorenzo
Heading back along the same road toward San Lorenzo now, there will be the same five kilometer flat section when leaving Puerto Cayo, and before heading inland where the terrain will be gin to roll again. A short and steep descent will take the riders back into San Lorenzo where the final push to the finish will begin.
After leaving San Lorenzo the second time, riders will face the biggest challenge of the day, in conquering El Aromo. At 7.5 kilometers long and an average gradient of 5.2% El Aromo will take the riders high above the coast, with steep pitches upwards of 13%. With over 115 kilometers in the legs when riders arrive at El Aromo, these steep sections will feel even steeper.
Those riders fighting for a top result should be thinking about the challenge of El Aromo all day, saving their legs and preparing to put attacks in on the steep pitches.. Riders further back should be making sure to save some energy for the big push before the long descents to the finish.
Get ready to finish
When reaching the top of El Aromo, riders will still need to push some big effort before the reward of the descent. The exhilarating descent that brings you back to San Mateo is almost 20 kilometers long but not that steep, so riders should get that chain on the big ring and go full gas. The last 10 kilometers to the finish line bring riders back along the same coastal roads that the race started on.
The rolling hills along the Pacific Ocean will be the last obstacle before reaching Manta where your family and cycling friends will be waiting for you to celebrate an amazing day. It’s even rumored that there could be a tailwind. (NO, THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT)!