Riders from the upstart Colombia-Coldeportes squad will land in Italy this weekend to begin their European adventure in what will be their debut season.
Sixteen members of Colombian-backed team will converge in what will be the team’s European base near Bergamo. Riders will be shown their new European home away from home before getting down to the business of racing their bikes.
The team has big ambitions to revive Colombian cycling with the idea of producing some big results that harken back to the South American nation’s glory days of the 1980s and 1990s.
Heading up the project is veteran Italian sport director Claudio Corti, who expressed his optimism the team will be able to compete in its first season.
“I’ve been talking to the guys a lot over the past couple of days and they are setting up the final details and showing great enthusiasm ahead of this long journey,” Corti said in a team note. “It’s definitely going to be a big change, particularly in comparison to the Colombian lifestyle. Nevertheless, having them so near the team’s headquarters will give us the chance to keep an eye on them and helping them settle into the European lifestyle.”
Adapting to European lifestyle and weather has always been a challenge for Colombian riders, especially so in the case of now-injured Mauricio Soler. The climber, who was nearly killed in a crash in last year’s Tour de Suisse, never fully adapted to Europe and preferred to live and train in Colombia before shuttling back to Europe for the main events.
Corti is hoping to break that trend and keep the team in Europe for heart of the racing season.
After settling into their new digs, the team will head to a training camp at Torbole sul Garda before making the season debut at GP Costa degli Etruschi on February 4.
Anchoring the team will be former U23 world champion Fabio Duarte and veterans Victor Hugo Peña and Luis Laverde.
Colombia-Coldeportes 2012 squad
Victor Hugo Peña
Juan Pablo Suarez