Colombian cycling has entered a bad streak, where its greatest exponents have been losing prominence over the years. What's next for Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal?
LatinAmerican Post | Daniel González Guerrero
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Leer en español: Nairo Quintana y el mal momento que vive el ciclismo colombiano
For some years now, the flagship sport of Colombia, cycling, has been going through a bad time, an aspect that has begun to set off alarm bells for all its fans. Even though in recent decades cycling has become one of the competitions that have won the most titles for the growth of the country, today the reality is worrying. Faced with this difficult situation, we must mention the different realities that the greatest exponents of Colombian cycling have begun to experience.
By 2023, Colombia will have a small number of representatives within the WorldTour teams, compared to previous years. In this cycling season, the coffee country will have only 15 athletes within these organizations, this is a bad statistic that has not been seen since 2017. This statistic has been given thanks to the news of two of its greatest exponents, who have been going through complicated realities in their professional careers.
'Nairoman' and his desire to continue
Nairo Quintana has become one of the most essential cyclists in the history of Colombia, his titles in competitions such as the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España have allowed him to enter the Olympus of Colombian sports. Despite these great achievements, the cyclist born in Boyacá has been going through one of his worst moments as a professional athlete, since he has been sanctioned for doping by the International Cycling Union (UCI), an organization that has revealed the improper use of Tramadol.
As if this were not enough, Nairo has not been able to reach an agreement to compete with one of the teams belonging to the WorldTour for this year, so he finds himself without teammates for this new season. The constant rejection has occurred due to the sporting downturn he has had in past competitions, where we have not seen the best face of the Colombian.
With all these situations, the possibility that Quintana would decide to retire from official competitions this year had been rumored, news that has been a strong blow to all lovers of Colombian cycling. Even though there is still no complete clarity about his future, the Boyacá native has given a press conference, in which he has made clear his desire to fight to return to being at the top of this sport.
These statements have been a balm for all the fans of this cyclist, who will have the chance to see him compete for several more months. In addition, it is hoped that Nairo can reach an agreement with a team belonging to the WorldTour, with the intention of participating in the highest competitions in this cycling year, his maximum objective for 2023.
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Egan Bernal was at the time one of the youngest cyclists to win a Tour de France and Giro d'Italia title, an aspect that has given him the chance to be listed as one of the best athletes in Colombia. When all Colombians considered that the man born in Zipaquirá would become the new benchmark for this sport, the 26-year-old suffered a tragic accident, which left him off the roads for several years.
After suffering this accident, the Colombian cyclist has gone through one of his worst moments as a professional athlete, remembering that he has had to go through a rather complicated recovery, where he has had to learn to eat and walk on his own. After overcoming this situation, Bernal has announced that he is ready to return to official competitions, this being one of the best news for his followers.
With the confirmed return of Egan, a small light is turned on for the return of Colombian cycling. However, it must be clear that there are currently no new alternatives that generate great illusions in this sport. Remember that the young cyclists who have started to leave have been falling by the wayside, this being one of the keys to this sports crisis.
Cyclists like Daniel Martínez, Sergio Higuita, Iván Sosa, and Diego Camargo have not had the opportunity to demonstrate their great talent in the great tours of the cycling seasons, which is why the future of Colombian cycling has been put at risk. But all Colombians believe that the 'beetles' will be able to change this difficult moment, so there is still hope for future competitions.
For the moment, it remains to be hoped that all this class of athletes can improve their performances in major competitions, for Colombia to once again be considered one of the best powers in this sport, this being one of the great challenges for this New Year.
Finally, it should be noted that the directors of the Colombian Cycling Federation have to start promoting and investing in the great talents that are emerging in the country, to give all these young athletes the necessary tools to reach the WorldTour's most outstanding teams.