“Because in Colombia, we’re into pedalingWe’re so good, that even Colombian cycling fans and amateurs Could easily compete with the world’s best cyclists”
—El Lider by Diomedes Diaz
There’s an aspirational spirit that permeates Colombian cycling at every level. A promise of what might be, along with a firm belief in how the sport can better the lives of individuals, and an entire nation along the way. This is not simply a matter of sport and fitness. This is about both passion and beliefs that run deeply, that begin to play out with children as young as five (which is when many in Colombia enter their first cycling academy). Far from leisurely Sunday rides, and the casual conversations that come with them in other countries, children in Colombia learn about race tactics, training regiments, nutrition and bike handling. Academies are split up by age group, and usually cater to only one such group. This ensures that a rider’s needs are addressed, and that their training and knowledge progress in an optimal way.
The goal is to compete, and to win.
Those who head up these academies are often retired riders who team up with trainers in order to develop future talent. To that end, academies have a connection with development teams, creating a clear path for riders to go from the most humble academies in Colombia’s rural countryside to established development and professional teams. Along the way, all those involved keep an eye on riders’ physical abilities as well as their personalities, in order to pinpoint what type of rider these children can become. Training sessions happen during the week, sometimes painfully early, along with longer training rides on weekends. Stage races with age-appropriate lengths are commonplace from early on in a rider’s life, and become longer, tougher as they progress. Along the way, those who head up these academies become involved in a rider’s life, often interfacing with the kid’s parents, visiting their homes in order to know and understand their family dynamics.