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Colombian stars arrive in Spain ready to race

More than 60 riders, including the likes of Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal, safely returned to Europe after months at home.

A peloton’s worth of Colombian cycling stars arrived in Madrid on Monday as scheduled in a charter flight that epitomizes the new COVID-19 reality of 2020.

Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Urán and Egan Bernal were among 60 pro racers who joined dozens of other top Colombian sport stars and officials who flew overnight from Bogotá to Madrid to return to Europe in time for racing to resume following a four-month stop due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a normal flight, everything was fine,” Quintana told reporters Monday in Madrid. “Everyone is happy to be back in Europe to race once again and to keep giving our fans something to cheer for.”

Before the flight, three would-be passengers tested positive for COVID-19 (none of them were cyclists) and were not allowed to travel to the airport. Another track and field athlete missed the flight because the test results had not returned in time. The 110 passengers underwent a battery pre-flight tests as well as followed strict health and safety protocols to assure that the flight was safe and that they would be allowed to enter Europe.

Riders from different teams went in a variety of directions. Four riders from Team Ineos, including Bernal, Iván Sosa, Sebastián Henao and Brandon Rivera, traveled to Andorra. Miguel Ángel López (Astana) went to Sierra Nevada while Quintana went to France to join his Arkéa–Samsic teammates.

Many will stay in Spain, and line up to race the Vuelta a Burgos (July 28-August 1) in what’s the first major stage-race since racing stopped during Paris-Nice in March.