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Who was Efraín Forero, Cycling Legend in Colombia?

Considered by Many to be a Cycling Legend, Efraín Forero was the First Champion of the Vuelta a Colombia and Turned tis Sport into an Identity Trait for Many. Here we Review his Career.

Ephraim Forero

Photo: Colprensa

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: ¿Quién fue Efraín Forero, leyenda del ciclismo en Colombia?

The world of cycling (and sports in general) in Colombia is in mourning after the death of Efraín Forero Triviño at the age of 92. The unfortunate news was confirmed on September 12 by a message on social networks from the Ministry of Sport, which did not go into detail about the circumstances. The legendary cyclist was responsible for massifying the road sport throughout the Andean territory and inspiring hundreds of young athletes.

The city of Zipaquirá, in the department of Cundinamarca, saw Forero born on March 4, 1930. From an early age, the son of Don Argemiro and Doña Sara showed a particular bond with bicycles and, at just 10 years old, managed to buy one with the effort of their work. From then on, his relationship with them would become inseparable, to the point of laying the first stone of cycling in Colombia.

At only 18 years old, he won his first competition at the amateur level and he did it on August 3, a day in honor of the martyrs of Zipaquirán. At that time, no one expected that this young man would prevail in the race, but he ended up surprising more than one to win his first prize: a wristwatch that he kept all his life. From then on, the Zipa, as everyone began to call him, focused on making a vision come true.

The origin of a legend in Colombia

It was the year 1950 and Colombia was experiencing a fierce war between liberals and conservatives, a scenario that did not prevent Forero from making possible the organization of a Tour of Colombia. After some tests to certify that it was possible to design several stages, the newspaper El Tiempo supported the idea of traveling the entire country by bicycle and a year later the first edition of the competition was held.

Everything was a success, to the point that there was more talk about cycling than violence. The Vuelta a Colombia consisted of ten stages that had to be covered in thirteen days, but the best thing of all was that in any part of the national territory they went to, crowds gathered. In the end, and as expected, of the 35 participants, Efraín Forero stood out by winning seven stages to win the title. They no longer spoke of the Zipa, but of the Indomitable Zipa.

In that first edition of the Vuelta a Colombia, Forero traveled 1,154 kilometers between trails of sand, mud and stone. His bike suffered up to six punctures, but at no time was he weak in the face of adversity. He ended up crossing the finish line with a time of 5 hours and 34 minutes. Historians and journalists assure that the South American country had never before turned to a competition in a great way, and right from that moment, they began to see cycling as a religion. Colombia's first sports idol was born.

To round off that year, Zipa won the gold medal at the Bolivarian Games held in Caracas, Venezuela. It was no longer a simple young prodigy of cycling, but a figure of sport on the continent. In 1953, he won the National Road Championship for the second time, a title that he revalidated the following year and which also earned him first place in the Central American and Caribbean Games in the road modality.

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Between 1955 and 1957, Forero was unable to win any championship in which he participated, although he was always on the podium. It was in 1958 when he managed to add his last title, the National Road Championship (the fourth in total). At the international level, the Zipa participated in the Route de France and in the World Road Championships in Lugano (Switzerland).

Finally, at 32 years old and after more than a decade dedicated to cycling, Efraín Forero decided to retire from the discipline as a professional. However, in later years, he chose to return, but as a coach, with the intention of guiding various teams and athletes, in addition to directing the Colombian women's team that participated in the 1986 Tour de France.

Many people say that if Efraín Forero had not existed, cycling in Colombia would not be what it is today. Thanks to the Indomitable Zipa, the coffee country gets excited every time one of its compatriots stands out in the discipline, not to mention that their performances inspired the new generations. His legend will endure in time.