In early September, it was announced that Darwin Atapuma had left Colombia for BMC Racing for the 2014 season. This week, the Colombian rider said he was grateful for the opportunity given to him at his now former team and thanked the squad as he moves up to the UCI WorldTour on a full-time basis.
“I will always be grateful to [Colombia general manager] Claudio Corti for believing in me, and getting me the opportunity to compete on the world stage,” Atapuma said in a press release. “Claudio and the whole technical team always made me feel important, giving their best to support us in any aspects … getting used to a different place and lifestyle was not easy, but sports directors, masseurs, mechanics, never let us down or made us feel alone.”
BMC signed the 25-year-old Atapuma after a season in which he recorded top-10 overall finishes at the Tour de Slovénie (sixth) and the Tour of Turkey (seventh), along with a stage win at the Tour of Poland. In 2012, his first year on the squad, he won a stage at the Giro del Trentino — “the biggest day in my career,” he said — and finished a close second on the Mt. Baldy stage at the Amgen Tour of California.
The climbing specialist said he welcomes the opportunity to race in Europe alongside his new BMC teammates.
“I’ll be part of one of the biggest teams in cycling, and I am looking forward to [facing] such a challenge,” Atapuma said.
Still, he will never forget where he got his start in the pro peloton.
“Next year another guy from my village, Tuquerres, will be part of Team Colombia: Pantoja, whose name is Darwin just like me,” Atapuma said. “I hope he, and a lot of Colombian youngsters, will have the opportunity to make the same, outstanding experience I did, in a really unique team in today’s cycling. I am not only talking about technical stuff, top organization and cycling experience, but an actual human bind I can hardly see in any other outfit. And I am going to miss that a bit, I already know that.”