It takes a lot in a country as renowned for its climbing specialists as Colombia to get noticed. Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (then Team Sky) and Carlos Bentancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) all managed it last year though, as did diminutive 25-year-old Darwin Atapuma, racing for Team Colombia. El Puma, at 5’6” and 60kg, is built perfectly for climbing and highlighted his credentials with a superb showing at the Giro d’Italia before bagging his maiden WorldTour victory during stage six of the Tour of Poland.
Atapuma – who at just 20 years old was crowned national road race champion in 2008 – impressed enough to convince BMC Racing to snap him up. With Cadel Evans already confirming he is targeting the Giro d’Italia, Atapuma is likely to be a key lieutenant with a mountainous parcours awaiting. At just 25, the Colombian ace certainly has time on his side to one day become a major Grand Tour contender in his own right too – with an overall 18th place at last year’s Giro highlighting his undoubted potential.