The Colombian national team will not be sending riders to compete in the Tour de l’Avenir held from August 23-30 in France. The decision, made by the federation’s president Ramiro Valencia Cossio, comes as a shock considering the nation’s past success at the popular Under 23 stage race.
“This year we will not participate,” Valencia Cossio said in an interview with the La Ruta Del Escarabajo blog, where he noted that the federation, trade teams; professional continental team Colombia and continental team 4-72 Colombia, and other stakeholders in the sport were unable to agree on a fair selection process for the team in time for the registration deadline.
“It is one of the principles that the executive committee of the Federation defends,” Valencia Cossio added with regard to creating a fair selection process. “Participation on a national team should follow performance criteria, and not require belonging to a [trade] team, because that would automatically close the door on guys from other teams."
“If the Federation allows a [trade] team to take on the role of the national team, it would open a gap through which any [trade] team could aspire to do the same."
“With a serious federation, the racers will understand that we are treating them all equally.”
The eight-day Tour de l'Avenir is organized by the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), is held on some of the same roads as the Tour de France and was specifically created for developing riders. It is thought to be the precursor for the next generation of Tour contenders, such as Colombia’s own Nairo Quintana, who won the 2010 edition of the race.
Colombia’s national team participated in last year’s event, won by Spain’s Ruben Fernandez Andujar, and has had winning results during previous editions with Esteban Chaves securing the title in 2011, Quintana in 2010, Martin Ramirez in 1985 and Alfonso Florez in 1980.
This year’s parcours, which ASO announced in April, boasts mountainous terrain with four consecutive stages in the Alps. The course suits Colombia’s national team, known for develop world-class climbers. Valencia Cossio noted that the Federation will start the process of selecting a team for next year's event.