By Antonio J. Salmerón
Former Time Trial World Champion Santiago Botero has announced he will end his professional career after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Colombian has contested seven Grand Tours, including four appearances at the Vuelta a España. "You have to know when to retire," the 35 year-old told Radio Caracol.
Botero, who made his debut in 1996 in the now-folded Spanish Kelme-Costa Blanca team, explained in the interview that he's training very hard for the Olympics in the hope of taking a medal for Colombia in August 2008.
Botero will race Continental squad UNE next season and if hopeful of winning the Vuelta a Colombia Pilsen, from June 8 - 22, for the second consecutive year. The Colombian rider, who finished 2007 in eighth place in the UCI America standings, has enjoyed some interesting times at European squads however now prefers racing at home.
Botero was well known in 2000, when won two stages in the Tour de France, and also claimed the mountains jersey. The following year, Botero claimed two stage wins at the Vuelta a España and the bronze medal at the TT Championships in Portugal. Botero has also won two stages in the Dauphine Libéré and another one in the Tour de Romandie during his European quest which included stints at Team Telekom and Phonak.
Recently, Botero claimed the gold medal at the Pan American Games and won the Vuelta a Colombia in 2007.