Colombian cyclists have been involved in the opening stage races of the European season, although the final days spelled trouble.
The Tirreno-Adriatico featured both Rigo Urán and Miguel Ángel López. The latter of the two did well on the Queen stage, leading for a while, before collapsing like a paper house in the Chocó. Ultimately, the biting cold of Italian mountains was too much for ‘Superman’, who picked up cramps. That stage went to Mikel Landa, newly of Movistar where he will challenge Nairo for team leadership in the Tour de France.
Older and wilier, Urán remained in the hunt for top stage, maintaining himself within touching distance of the lead right up to the final days where he pulled up to the top 5. That’s a solid but unspectacular start to the season that should leave him in good form come July. Fernando Gaviria, Colombia’s sprinting superstar, put himself about a bit in the early sprints but crashed badly on stage 6. Although he completed the last eight kilometres of the race, tests revealed he had a fractured hand and now faces four weeks out of the saddle.
Over the border in France, both Esteban Chaves and Henao were protagonists in Paris-Nice, the famed Race to the Sun. Henao had the better time, staying in the top ten right up to the final stage, where he lost time on the main contenders and fell to 12th overall. The race went to Marc Soler from Movistar on the final day.
Chaves had a nightmare final stage, eventually finishing outside the time limit. A clutch of other Colombians such as Jarlinson Pantano and Dayer Quintana finished well back in the peloton. With Mark Soler from Spain also emerging as a credible future leader for Movistar, trouble could be looming for Nairo at a team where the management have criticised him.