Why do Colombian cyclists Dominate the Mountain Stages?

Colombian cyclists have left their mark in the history of international cycling for their ability to climb. Why do they stand out in the mountain stages?.

Nairo quintana

The "Beetles" come mostly from the Cundiboyacense Altiplano and the department of Antioquia, mountainous regions of Colombia ideal for training this sport. Photo: IG-nairoquincoficial

LatiAmerican Post | Alexey Zhúkov

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Leer en español: ¿Por qué los ciclistas colombianos dominan las etapas de montaña?

The answer to this question lies in the geographical and social characteristics of Colombia. Cycling is one of the most famous sport of Colombia and is part of the historical memory of a country marked by violence. Its practice dates back to the first half of the 20th century and emerged as entertainment in the face of serious public order events that shook the nation after “El Bogotazo”.

This is how the Vuelta a Colombia was born in 1951, which took the sport to the professional sphere and consolidated it as the national sports discipline . The Colombian cycling tournament is considered one of the most demanding in the world due to its high mountain stages that dominate the national geography.

One of the most famous mountain passes in the coffee country is the impressive Alto de la Línea, which has a summit that is located at 3,267 m. with slopes of up to 14% , a tough climb compared to the highest peak of the 2021 Giro d'Italia at the Pordoi Pass at 2,239 m .; and with the highest summit climbed in the Tour de France 2021, the Port of Envalira with an elevation of 2,408 m. In addition, the coffee nation has important ascents of 1st. Category like the Alto Bonito at 2,204 m. and the Alto del Roble at 2,115 m .

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There is also the Alto El Picacho with 3,400 m high and the fearsome Alto de Letras, known as the Páramo de Letras because of its proximity to this páramo, a mountain pass located in the Central Cordillera in the Andean Region with an altitude of 3,677 m. , scenarios where they forged their status as "Escarabajos" (Beetles). This is the nickname as Colombian cyclists are known internationally for their great ability to climb. Legends such as Luis Herrera "El Jardinerito" and Fabio Parra , as well as important runners such as Nairo Quintana, Sergio Luis Henao, Esteban Chaves "El Chavito", Egan Bernal "El Cóndor de Zipaquirá", among others, give meaning to the little insect.


Countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador or Peru have a geography and demographic characteristics similar to those of Colombia, but they are far from producing the same amount of talent, which is partly due to the fact that bicycles are the main means of transport in rural areas and some urban centers. , due to the lack of economic resources and the vehicular congestion that makes transit difficult. These cyclists are mostly children of peasants and humble peasants with a desire to progress , who have used the bicycle to work and travel to school.

For example , Nairo Quintana, at age 15, rode the bicycle that his father gave him to attend the school located in the town of Arcabuco (Boyacá) 21 km away from his home, he even tied his bicycle to his brother's to get back home faster. One day he found some cyclists who were training and were not able to catch up with him, a fact that ignited the spark of cycling in the Boyacá climber.

The “Beetles” come in (mostly) from the Cundiboyacense Altiplano and the department of Antioquia , mountainous regions of Colombia ideal for the training of this sport and where the most ferocious climbers who exceed the international elite mountain stages are trained.