“Look at those bloody Colombians, coming over here and stealing our WorldTour places and results…”
This might well be one reaction within the professional peloton if Nigel Farage were a down-on-his-luck rouleur for Caja Rural or Wanty-Groupe Gobert, rather than the leader of Europe’s most popular foot-in-mouth party.
The Colombians, suddenly, are everywhere. Julián Arredondo, all two feet and two stone of him, has been shooting off the front of the peloton with such regularity during this Giro d’Italia, it’s as if every summit is a Schengen crossing instead of a simple King of the Mountains prime. Claudio Corti’s Colombia team have also been prominent in nearly every breakaway so far.
No amount of apocalyptic weather, bureaucracy or red flags can stop Nairo Quintana either. In taking over the race lead from countryman Rigo Uran, he’s likely stopped the Omega Pharma-Quick Step man from being the only winner of Italy’s national tour whose name is an anagram of the race.
It wasn’t always like this. The old Colombian generation were tarred by a number of the bunch as party crashers, crash causers and flimsy climbers who’d lose ten minutes on the flat. After the first wave disappeared, the only men flying the (metaphorical and definitely not St George-shaped) flag for Colombia were Santiago Botero – a rider who flip-flopped between time-triallist and climber with the consistent inconsistency of a top class politician and eventually joined Phonak, home of Landis and Jose Ivan Gutierrez – and Victor Hugo Peña, servant to the Elysée Palace’s second most reviled figure after Marine Le Pen. That’s death by PR association, then.
It’s time to get used to the current lot being the new norm, making their oppressors look very silly on the bike – even if old prejudiced habits die hard.
What anti-continental Mr Farage has failed to understand is that WorldTour riders hailing from traditional cycling hinterlands are not only ubiquitous, they’re very good at what they do. Just as Lampre’s Polish domestique Przemysław Niemiec has consistently and unfussily outworked his master Damiano Cunego over the past few years, so Nairo Quintana has done Alejandro Valverde’s menial labour until he looks more at home in the Movistar court than the King himself.
If backing these Colombians isn’t palatable for Mr. Farage, there’s still a very prominent British team to get behind, although I hear they employ Belarusians, Norwegians and Spaniards too. At least they got rid of their Belgian doctor…
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH UH HUH
3 – Stages in the yellow jersey at the 2003 Tour de France for Victor Hugo Peña, the first Colombian to ever lead the race.
2 years and 360 days – The gap between French stage winners at the Giro: John Gadret and Nacer Bouhanni.
Luis ‘Lucho’ Herrera wins the 17th stage of the 1984 Tour de France on Alpe d’Huez:
Botero on one of his climbing days, winning on Les Deux Alpes in the 2002 Tour.
After eight and a half hours in the saddle, Herrera gifts Fabio Parra stage victory at the 1985 Tour.
May 21: Aru!
May 14: Winning Women
May 7: Would You Like EPO With Those Fries?
April 30: Nibali Wibbali
April 23: Amstel Golden Oldies
April 16: Silly Season
April 9: Braking Away
April 2: No April Fools
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