Team Colombia has described obtaining a wild card invitation for the Giro d'Italia as a crucial step in the team's development, promising to light up the race during the mountain stages.
The team is funded by the Colombian government and was created by former Saeco and Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti in 2012.
“This invitation is a crucial step in our project’s path, so I can’t be anything but happy that our Team has managed to win a Giro d’Italia spot in just its second season in the pro ranks," Corti said in a press release from the team.
"In our first year, I think we showed everyone in cycling the real value of our riders and organization, and we feel ready to improve further: we have a huge bunch of people all over the World who can’t wait to see us in action at the Giro, and we certainly will not disappoint them.”
“We have got the riders and the attitude to perform in a demanding Giro d’Italia, and we will be looking to bring what everybody expects from us: we have a group of exciting grimpeurs and an 'Inspired by Climbing' attitude, and we definitely will not back down when the road points up.”
Team leaders at Colombia include Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Darwin Atapuma and Carlos Quintero. Atapuma won a stage of last year's Giro del Trentino, while Duarte won the GP Citta di Camaiore and Coppa Sabatini races in Italy and two stages of the Vuelta Colombia.
The team likes to call itself the Escarabajos - the Beatles - because of is black jersey, and hopes to follow in the steps of the legendary Cafe de Colombia team from the eighties that included pure climbers Lucho Herrara and Fabio Parra.
“It feels great to be part of the return of a Colombian team on the Grand Tour stage," Italian directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi said.
"Our team left its mark on races with its quality and personality in 2012, and we now get the chance to give our fans what they have been waiting for so long. We worked very hard for a year, but our efforts paid dividends: Team Colombia managed to win the respect and the affection of people from all over the World, and this invitation marks a huge moment for us.”
Team Colombia was not selected for Tirreno-Adriatico or Milano-Sanremo but secured a place in Il Lombardia at the end of the season.