2012 wasn't the year that Pro-Continental team Colombia-Coldeportes would have hoped for. Results were thin on the ground and though they got asked to a few Italian races like the Giro Del Trentino, they didn't receive invites to any of the three Grand Tours - not a great move for a new and ambitious team of Colombians. 2013 looks like it could be a much better year though - photographed above is Coldeportes star rider Esteban Chavez with Christian Prudhomme at the unveiling of the 2013 Tour route which may be a hint of whats to come...
Colombia-Coldeportes were invited to the presentation though no decision has been made as whether they will participate in the 2013 tour, indeed Coldeportes are hoping to win a 'wildcard' to get there and having missed out last year they may be hoping for a spot this time round. Add to this the fact that its a particularly hilly route - with 6 high mountain stages and the average gradient 8% - 2% greater than usual and it looks to be a race built for the climbers. The Colombians were, as we well know, born to climb, and the Coldeportes jersey even bares the motto "Inspired by Climbing".
Colombia-Coldeportes general manager Claudio Corti said after the presentation: “The route is great, everything seems in place for a great show. Four uphill finishes and plenty of other big mountains will give climbers the chance to shine, and “grimpeurs” like ours could play a big part in 2013 Tour’s plot. Should we be at the start in Corsica, we will go for every opportunity.”
Corti and Chaves were also notably present at the Giro d'Italia presentation earlier in the month which would hint at another possible WildCard invite and it could even transpire that Colombia-Coldeportes get an invite to all three Grand Tours this year as the Vuelta a Espana would be like home from home, with the combination of Language, Cuisine, Climbing and Heat - it could almost be considered their 'home' Grand Tour.
Why is it that I'm so excited by the possibility of Coldeportes finally lining up for the Grand Tours? Simple - a team of Grimpeurs who are built to climb and taught to attack - while some Grand Tours can find themselves a stalemate or even just stale as the usual suspects eye each other up for 19 days before making a move, adding a bunch of Colombians who's very essence is panache can only serve to break up the monotony as they look to take the fight to the big names - whilst the favourites have everything to lose, the young Colombians have everything to gain in going all out attack on the climbs. It's what they do best and there will be no fear here.
When the Colombians first arrived at the Tour in 1983 they caused a bit of a stir, in fact they were pretty much an 80's revolution with the likes of Patrocinio Jimenez, Cabrera, Corredor, Agudelo, Parra and Lucho Herrera - who won the Vuelta a Espana and the Alpe d'Huez stage of the 1984 Tour de France along with 5 king of the mountains jerseys over the course of the three Grand Tours - all tearing up the climbs in ways we hadn't seen before.
If the current crop of Colombians can inspire and shake things up like they did in the 80's then 2013 could throw up some huge surprises - even if it just serves to give the main contenders a bit of a scare and force them into action then it will be to the benefit of the race and the viewer. However I got excited by Colombia-Coldeportes at the start of the year and it proved disappointing but 2013 really could be the spark that lights the Coldeportes fire and I'm really looking forward to seeing them slog it out with the very best, if of course they bag a couple of those 'wildcards'...