The heavens opened with just a few minutes remaining, but spirits were far from dampened at the official presentation of the riders and teams who will make up the inaugural edition of the Colombia Oro y Paz.
The new UCI 2.1 race, which sees a truly international professional peloton competing in Colombia for the first time, is a great source of pride for the cycling federation and the country as a whole. And Monday’s event was a celebration, with Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Urán et al paraded in front of adoring fans in the Estadio Francisco Rivera Escobar in Palmira.
“When we first came up with the idea, people thought we were mad,” said Coldeportes director Clara Luz Roldán on stage in the stadium. “But here we are.”
Soon the 25 teams entered the stadium one by one on their bikes, completing a lap of the athletics track that runs around the football pitch so as to pass in front of both stands of fans. Urán played the crowd, Fernando Gaviria filmed it on his phone, and Nairo Quintana mostly bore a bemused expression, as if he isn’t mobbed every time he’s spotted out in public.
Those three, along with the 10 other WorldTour-level Colombians here, were called onto stage together for a photo opportunity and a rendition of the national anthem. Footballers are often scrutinised for how heartily they sing their anthems, but in this case Nairo Quintana would have nothing to worry about.
The teams were then called up onto the stage one-by-one to be introduced to the crowds. The storm clouds loomed and the presenters rushed through the Pro Continental teams, but the rain came pelting down just as Movistar, the first of the WorldTour teams, hit the stage. The crowds in the stands and the middle of the stadium cleared out in a frenzied instant – a somewhat anticlimactic end to the show.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a selection of photos from the event.