There’s a great deal of interest in Colombian cycling as of late, along with an equal number of questions about the riders themselves. Who are they, where did they come from, and how did they develop the ability to perform at such high levels? Like with anything that contains the complexities of human interaction, the answers to these questions are out there, but are not simply answered in one or two sentences. It’s not just a matter of the Colombians’ slight build, or the magical consequences of living and training at altitude.
Reality is always more intricate. Delightfully so.
In the case of Colombian cycling, this means a large network of academies and development teams, along with the people that make them up. The ones who help teams and academies, the parents and families, and the selfless individuals who care for competitive riders as young as five years old—which is when many in Colombia begin organized cycling.
There’s the local businessman who has young riders over to his house for breakfast every day. The loving mother who worries for her son as he races in far away places, and records videos of the family to ease his homesickness. The team trainer who keeps tabs on his riders, and knows their every move in social circles, just as well as he knows their wattage during training sessions. The stand-in mothers within teams, who care for young riders and console them through difficult times. The families who struggle financially, making sacrifices in the name of their son or daughter’s passion. The businessman who invest in the future of the sport during its most difficult time. In its totality, Colombian cycling is an intriguing and dense network made up of people. It’s a uniquely Colombian construct, since it’s rooted in the nation’s passion for the sport, and the peculiar way that it manifests itself there.