4. Quintana and the Colombians
Colombia resurfaced as an international force in the peloton with daring fashion throughout 2013. The South American nation has been one of cycling’s hotbeds for decades, but following the initial boom in the 1980s and early 1990s, Colombian cyclists seemed to get lost in the woodwork. There were the occasional wins here and there, but all that changed in 2013.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) led a stampede of a new generation of “escarabajos,” who re-confirmed their place in the peloton with a string of escapades that arched across the entire season. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) lit up the Ardennes and reached the Giro podium with the best young rider and the best climber’s jersey. Rigoberto Urán (Sky) won a stage and rode to second in the Giro d’Italia, while Sergio Henao (Sky) confirmed his rising talent with a stage victory at the Vuelta a País Vasco.
Team Colombia, riding with more confidence in its second full season, is serving as a breeding ground for young South American talent. Yet it was the pint-sized Quintana who stood tall, riding to second place and both the best young rider’s and climber’s jerseys at the Tour — the best ever result for a Colombian in the annual race through France. Some observers noted that Quintana achieved in one Tour what all of Colombian cycling had achieved over the past three decades.
It now seems only a matter of time — and a question of the right kind of Tour course — before a Colombian will be standing on the top step in Paris.
FILED UNDER: Commentary TAGS: Andrew Talansky / Brian Cookson / Carlos Betancur / Chris Froome / Chris Horner / Fabian Cancellara / Giro d'Italia / Lance Armstrong / Marcel Kittel / Mark Cavendish / Nairo Quintana / Operación Puerto / Peter Sagan / Rigoberto Urán / Rui Costa / Sergio Henao / Tejay Van Garderen / Tour de France / Vincenzo Nibali / Vuelta a España