Retired professional Santiago Botero has taken a position as manager of the Colombia-based UCI Continental team Gobernacion de Antioquia. He is currently directing his riders Sergio Henao and Oscar Sevilla into the top two places in the mid-race overall standings at the Tour of Utah.
"I am very happy with how they have ridden this week," Botero told Cyclingnews. "They had a good start at the prologue and a stage one. I am happy directing and sometimes it is more stress than when I was a rider. I help the riders with a lot of their tactics during the race, which is more difficult now because they are not allowed radios. We have a lot of younger riders and they trust my experience."
Henao surprised the high-quality peloton when he won the opening prologue. Stage one proved to be decisive when he along with teammate Oscar Sevilla, Levi Leipheimer and Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) and breakaway rider Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) reached the finish line more than two-and-a-half minutes ahead of the nearest chase group. The overall classification remained the same following stage two.
Botero is not convinced, however, that his two GC riders will be able to hold on to the race lead following the stage three 15.6 kilometer time trial held at the Miller Motorsports Park on Friday. He believes that Leipheimer is the favourite to win that stage and that it is possible he will move into the race lead.
However, he is counting on the queen stage's five climbs to be challenging enough for his riders move back into the race lead, and win the overall title.
"We will try to keep the yellow jersey," Botero said. "It will not be easy. Everyone knows that Levi is strong in the time trial. Our riders are not, Sergio and Oscar, they are normal in the time trial. There is another very hard stage on Sunday and we will try to do well in this stage."
From professional racing to developing Colombian talent
Botero retired from professional bike racing last July, after a lengthy and successful career. He became a professional in 1996 and rode for teams like Kelme, Telekom and Phonak and Rock Racing along with Indeportes Antioquia-IDEA-FLA-Lotería de Medellín and occasionally competed with the Colombian National Team.
His palmares included a world time trial championships title and he was a two-time stage winner at the Tour de France and winner of the King of the Mountains jersey. He also won the Tour of Romandie and stages at the Vuelta a Espana, Dauphine Libere, Vuelta a Andalucia and Paris-Nice.
"In moments like this, when we are winning, I miss racing," Botero said with regard to Henao’s race lead at the Tour of Utah. "When the team is winning I remember what that feels like, when you have good legs on the bike.
"But, I felt like I retired in the right moment," he said. "Retiring was not easy because my life changed completely. I was in my house with nothing to do, like a cat. I didn’t ride for the first two months and I believe that was the mistake I made. I must continue being a cyclist, riding my bike, because it is a part of my life."
Botero is currently manufacturing his own bicycle line called X-Kape by Santiago Botero. He was offered a management position with Gobernacion de Antioquia last season and is enjoying his time as a manager and director of cycling developing with children in Colombia. In addition he is a representative of the Colombian Olympic Committee.
"This is a government funded program through the province of Antioquia that helps develop and educate children," Botero said. "We bring children of all ages to our facility to learn about cycling with coaches and we provide studies for them. This program has been around for 18 years and we have about 50 kids right now."