Few colombians can forget the image: “Lucho” Herrera riding his bicycle with blood all over his face. It’s 1985 and the 14 stage of the Tour of France takes its course; dressed with the shirt of red circles that acknowledges him as King of the mountain, Herrera descents full of speed trough Croix de Chaubouret, when the accident occurs and he hits the floor. With no time to waste, and despite the blood, he gets on his bike again and wins the tour’s stage.
That scene may be one of the greatest moments of colombian cycling. Years before, another great national cyclist, Martín Emilio “Cochise” Rodríguez, won two chapters of the Tour of Italy –in 1974 and 1975–, and was World Champion of 4.000 meters of individual persecution. But despite this, it was Herrera who gave visibility to colombian cycling after winning the Tour of Spain in 1987.
“Lucho” showcased Colombia as a nation of great cyclists, and since then our riders haven’t stopped winning: Fabio Parra, second place in the Tour of Spain of 1989 and third in the Tour of France of 1988; Santiago Botero, winner of three Tour of France stages and World Champion of the Time Trial challenge in Zolder (Belgium), in 2002, and Mauricio Soler, winner of the mountain prize in the 2007 Tour of France.
But they’re not the only ones. A new generation of national cyclists has been filling with glory the name of our country: Nairo Quintana, the only latino to win the Tour of Italy –the second most important race in the world–, and second place in the Tour of France. And also Rigoberto Urán, silver medalist in the Olympic Games of London, 2012, and second in this year’s Tour of Italy.
We have a lot of reasons to celebrate, because we now that the best is still to come.
We’re proud to say that, in cycling, the Answer is Colombia.