Colombian cycling starts 2023 with uncertainty and still groggy due to the hard blows received by the scandals of Miguel Angel Lopez and Nairo Quintanathat today does not appear in a team of Europe, which limits their actions and the option to continue winning.
López was not taken into account for the Astana team, as his name is in a court in Cáceres (Spain) that is investigating a doping plot called operation Ilex, for the use and distribution of prohibited drugs.
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Quintana is still haunted by the decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI), after two of his analyzes were positive for the substance tramadol, which is not allowed to be thrown in competition by the entity, but which is not on the list of prohibited substances of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The two riders are fit to compete, they do not have any sanctions, but their cases have condemned them not to be, for the moment, in the big leagues of European cycling.
‘Supermán’ López reached an agreement with the Team Medellin to compete locally and in some international races while the Spanish investigation yields some results.
Quintana announced that he already had a team last November, but this is the time that the name has not been confirmed.
It is clear that the two scandals in which they are protagonists harmed them and, incidentally, also cycling in the country for this year.
Colombian cycling experiences a shock of what has happened with the two of them. The first international pedal stroke has not been given and the statistics do not lie.
In 2023 there will be 15 riders from the country in World Tour teams, the highest category, out of 20 that were present last year.
It no longer appears in that prestigious lot López y Sebastián Henao (Astana), Camilo Ardila (United Arab Emirates), Alejandro Osorio (Bahrain) and Daniel Arroyave (EF).
«The casualties of López and Nairo are a hard blow not only for Colombia, but for cycling in the world.»
The lowest national quota in the WT in recent years was in 2017, when there were 14 riders in the category, but on this occasion, no Colombian cyclist was hired for this season. It went blank.
“It is clear that the casualties of López and Nairo are a hard blow not only for Colombia, but for cycling in the world. They are two productive riders, winners, who have performed well in the big leagues, but their problems have led them not to be taken into account by any group in Europe,» the Italian former cyclist told EL TIEMPO Alessandro Petacchiwinner of 22 stages in the Giro d’Italia, 20 in the Tour of Spain and champion of Milan-San Remo in 2005.
And he added: “We, in Italy, have a big problem, there are no Italian teams in the top flight, that could be compared to Colombia losing places there. It is a problem that must be solved and that makes a dent in the country”.
Without the two Boyacá leaders, the country loses 51 victories in Quintana’s career, at 32 years old, and 22 for ‘Supermán’, 28 years old, at the best age to give great results.
Colombian pedaling came to have 22 cyclists in the WT as its maximum contribution, it was in 2022, but the number has fallen.
The evolution of Egan Bernal is expected after the accident in January 2022, when he almost left him in a wheelchair and could even cause his death, and that Daniel Martínez, Sergio Higuita, Rigoberto Urán and Santiago Buitrago will have the opportunity to appear in the competitions in which they manage to compete.
“The good thing is that there are riders with a lot of expectations. Bernal, Martínez, Higuita, Urán and Buitrago are cyclists who show their faces and in this 2023 they must respond to the loss of Nairo and López. Colombia has always been characterized by having a high performance and this year, I hope, will not be different”, indicated Petacchi.
Abraham Olano, road world champion in 1995 and winner of the Back to Spain of 1998, agree that without López and Nairo Colombia loses.
“There are two clear casualties. They will be absences because they are runners who count on them in the big events, they are references. It is a hard blow because by not having it, Colombia loses, that’s for sure, and more because of the circumstances”, said the Spanish rider.
However, the evil is not only in the World Tour, as it is strange to see that only three cyclists from the country are part of teams in the Proteam category, the second in the world.
This year there are Ardila, who arrived at Burgos, and Jhojan Garcia and Yesid Pirawho are part of the Caja Rural, the same number of runners as in 2010.
Last year there were 15 cyclists, but the different problems that the number minimized.
«I trust that Egan, Daniel and Higuita respond to the demands they have.»
With the disappearance of the Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli in the last part of the season, six Colombians lost their jobs, most of them have not been able to join a group by 2023.
“For me they are circumstances that exist in cycling. In Spain we only have one WT team and the other riders are in other groups. I am confident that Egan, Daniel and Higuita responded to the demands they have, faced with the hard blow of having fewer cyclists in the category and with large casualties like those of López and Nairo”, Olano sentenced.
In addition, he stopped competing in Europe Dayer Quintana, Winner Anacona, Miguel Flórez, Juan Fernando Calle, Didier Merchán, Daniel Méndez, Jhonatan Cañaveral, Brandon Rojas, Jhonatan Restrepo, Daniel Muñoz and Santiago Umba, a good number of options for cycling on the Old Continent.
“Colombia has too much level, a lot of talent, but you have to know how to walk those cyclists. There are many sensitive casualties this year, it is a very sensitive issue, but it must also be said that they have top riders and they must guide the youngsters better, otherwise they will have a lot of work”, concluded Petacchi.
Colombians in the World Tour 2023
Egan Bernal (Ineos)
Daniel Martinez (new)
Brandon Rivera (Ineos)
Harold Tejada (Astana)
Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain)
Sergio Higuita (Bora)
Rigoberto Urán (EF)
Esteban Chaves (EF)
Diego Camargo (EF)
Fernando Gaviria (Movistar)
Einer Rubio (Movistar)
Ivan Sosa (Movistar)
Jesus Pena (Jayco)
Alvaro Hodeg (United Arab Emirates)
Juan Molano (United Arab Emirates)
Editor of EL TIEMPO