There’s no question that Colombia is barnstorming this edition of the Giro. With today’s 1-2 (Julian Arredondo and Fabio Duarte) stage victory and the 1-2 in the overall (Quintana and Uran), it’s clear that the Colombians intend on making noise, not just in this Grand Tour, but for the next two that follow as well. It appears that Quintana will win this Giro unless he bonks on the time trial (stage 19) or somehow falters on the Zoncolan (stage 20), it’s more than likely that Uran will hold down the second spot on the podium, and Arredondo will certainly take the mountains classification.
Images: Yuzuru Sunada
The Colombians have a rich history in the sport and are considered to be some of the purest climbers in the peloton as we all know, but nothing compares to the number of strong riders we are seeing so far this year. Here’s a few quick bits about two of the most notable Colombian riders from the past that set the ground work for the guys that race today.
LUIS “LUCHO” HERRERA (53)
(Born in Fusagasugá, Colombia, which sits at 5,669 feet above sea level)
Luis Herera was the man in the mid-1980s. He was small and compact and it always seemed like his bike was way too big for him, but man could he climb. Like Quintana today, Herrera was expressionless when he was going up, which probably threw his competitors off. He rode for Café de Colombia from 1985-1990 and Ryalco Postobon from 1991-1992.
He posted some huge results during his pro career starting with a stage 17 win at the Tour de France in 1984. In 1985 he placed 7th overall at the Tour, took stages 11 and 14 and won the overall mountains classification. In 1987 he placed 5th overall at the Tour and took the overall mountains classification again. He would never top his 5th overall again, or take the mountains jersey again either. At the Giro d’Italia in 1989, Herrera took the overall mountains classification, but could only manage an 8th overall. In 1987 Herrera won the Vuelta a’España and took the overall mountains classification (he took the mountains classification again in 1991). He is the second rider in history (behind Federico Bahamontes) to take the overall mountains classification in each of the three Grand Tours. The final big result came by way of winning the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in 1988 and again in 1991.Tour de France, 1984. Stage 17.
FABIO PARRA (54)
(Born in Sogamoso, Colombia, which sits at 8,428 feet above sea level)
Another great Colombian climber, Parra rode for Café de Colombia from 1985-1987, Kelme from 1988-1990 and finished out his career with Amaya from 1991-1992.
Nineteen-eighty-five was a good year for Parra as he placed 5th overall at the Vuelta, 8th overall at the Tour including a stage 12 victory and the overall for best young rider. The 1986 season was a bit of a slow year for him but he still managed 8th overall at the Vuelta. Another solid showing at the Tour in 1987 allowed him a 6th place overall along with a 3rd place overall at the Tour de Suisse. With the switch to the Kelme team in 1988, Parra hit his stride finishing 5th overall at the Vuelta including a stage 13 victory, and a spot on the podium at the Tour with a solid 3rd place overall, including a stage 11 victory. He continued his assault in 1989 with a 2nd place overall at the Vuelta. It was now clear that the Vuelta suited him best as he finished 5th overall in 1990 and 1991 and 7th overall in his last season, 1992. His brother Ivan also had success in the pro ranks with two stage wins in the 2005 Giro.Tour de France, 1985. Stage 12.
(Born in Ramiriquí, Colombia, which sits at 7,572 feet above sea level)
Tall for a climber at 6 feet, 2 inches and armed with an awkward riding style, Soler wasn’t your typical tiny/compact Colombian climber. There’s no telling how much Soler would have accomplished had he not suffered a near fatal injury at the 2011 Tour de Suisse. In 2012 he announced his retirement but up to that point he enjoyed some decent results including a stage 9 victory at the 2007 Tour de France and the overall mountains classification.
He rode for Acqua & Sapone in 2006, Barloworld from 2007-2009 and Caisse d’Epargne from 2010-2011.