Lance Armstrong, the U.S. cycling legend, recovered from a difficult start to the Ruta de los Conquistadores — a tough test of mountain biking in Costa Rica — and completed the three-day race in 12th place.
The Spaniard Josep Betalú was crowned champion of the route on Saturday after winning the third and final stage of the competition. The Catalan had also won the 2017 edition of the competition, which is considered one of the most difficult mountain-biking races in the world.
The American Josiah Middaugh finished in second place, followed by Costa Rican Federico Ramírez.
Armstrong, 47, has retired from professional cycling but became the most well-known figure in this year’s event. He also made a video about the competition.
The annual Ruta de los Conquistadores crosses Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Atlantic, with strong ascents and descents over the course of three days.
Armstrong suffered throughout the first leg of the race, which starts in Jacó and ascends to Ciudad Colón, west of San José.
He completed that day’s stage three-and-a-half hours behind the leader, according to the organizers of the competition.
On the second day, he recovered and closed in 22nd place, just 50 minutes behind that stage’s leader.
His performance improved in the final stage, when riders traversed from the eastern city of Turrialba to the Caribbean port of Limón. That day, Armstrong finished 11th in the elite category, 13 minutes and 25 seconds behind Betalú.
Armstrong completed the route 12th overall, 4 hours and 38 minutes behind the winner.
During his visit to Costa Rica, Armstrong also visited shelters for children with cancer.
The cyclist, who overcame testicular cancer, brought a message of hope to the children. He reminded them how he managed to become the world’s leading figure in cycling after overcoming the disease.
However, Armstrong was sanctioned for doping and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Editor’s note: Interested in learning more about La Ruta de los Conquistadores? Read more about the grueling race below: