Road

Higuita all-in for Tour de France

Colombian national champion rules out Vuelta appearance in order to keep classics options open.

Sergio Higuita is stacking all his eggs into the Tour de France basket this year.

EF Pro Cycling’s Colombian climbing star has had to alter his priorities for 2020 after coronavirus shook up the season. His focus earlier in the year had been the Ardennes classics, but now the 22-year-old is all-in for a Tour debut this August. The rest of his calendar, including plans for one-day racing, is still to be confirmed.

“We are already training again and everything is focused on the Tour de France. It is the highest priority right now,” Higuita told Damarrajaweb Friday. Higuita, reigning Colombian national champion and winner of February’s Tour Colombia will be riding alongside veteran countryman Rigoberto Urán in heading his team’s yellow jersey challenge.

Higuita had also placed the world championship on his short-list of priorities at the start of the year. The punchy course due to be used in Switzerland this September is ideal hunting ground for a rider of Higuita’s climbing chops. However, with talks still ongoing about a potential move of venue to a sprint-friendly course in the UAE, Oman or Qatar, Higuita is reconsidering.

“The world championships are the great unknown,” Higuita said. “If it takes place on the scheduled date and in Switzerland, I would very much like to run it because I think it is a race that I can do well. But if it is delayed and taken to the Middle East, it will change my vision a lot.”

One thing that Higuita is sure of is that he will not back up the Tour with his second Vuelta a España, where he took a stage win last year. With goals also in the classics, Higuita is looking to keep his options open while young.

“Without analyzing it well, I would tell you that with 22-23 years as I have, it is too early to dispute two long races. And more when there are classics that I like and in which I think I can also do well,” he said. “I have always said that I want to focus my sports career on the three-week races, but also on the classic ones. I do not want to rule out one of the options to focus only on one type of competition. I am very young and I have to keep trying what is best for me. But my passion is to be versatile and to try classic and stage races.”

Higuita, Urán, and their Tour de France rivals Egan Bernal and Nairo Quintana are among the many Colombians who will have to navigate their way around restrictions on travel from their country that have been imposed through August 31. While it is possible that they will be able to obtain special exemptions from the state to enable them to travel to Europe to train and race, the situation is still to be confirmed.

“I have not started to analyze with the team when we are going to be able to travel to Europe,” Higuita said. “Right now, it’s all up in the air because the rules change so easily.”