We knew Colombians could climb, and the way the men from Latin America have stormed the Giro d’Italia has opened up a whole new chapter in the history of the country’s cyclists.
Luis Herrera, Patrocinio Jimenez, Ramon Hoyos – the history of the Escarabajos is a rich one, and this latest chapter looks set to be the richest yet.
The signs were there 12 months ago, on the Giro’s snow-battered penultimate stage on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
While Vincenzo Nibali’s stage win, which all-but confirmed his Giro d’Italia victory, took centre stage, behind him an equally pertinent story was playing out as Fabio Duarte (Team Colombia), Rigoberto Uran (then Team Sky) and Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) followed in second, third and fourth respectively.
The Colombian trio’s success was a throw-back to those golden years and with a passionate following trekking around Ireland and Italy to support them, the Colombians were at it again on stage 18 of this year’s 97th corsa rosa.
As Nairo Quintana (Movistar) – the second Colombian ever to wear the maglia rosa, having wrestled it from the shoulders of the first, Uran, battled with his compatriot on the Rifugio Panarotta, Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing), in the blue jersey, was blasting to the stage win.
Second on the stage was Duarte – four riders, four teams but one nationality in common, and with 14 Colombians on this year’s start line it is difficult to pick any who have not impressed.
We have taken a closer look at how the 2014 Giro d’Italia belongs to the men from Colombia over the following pages.