Tour de France: Pantano gives Colombian crowds something to shout about

27-year-old raises the roof on Jura mountains with his first Tour stage win

The Colombian fans have been out in force throughout this Tour de France – some brandishing vuvuzelas and sporting nothing but speedos – and while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) hasn't given them a huge deal to shout about, Jarlinson Pantano raised the roof with his stage win in the Jura mountains on Sunday.

It was, comfortably, the biggest achievement of the 27-year-old's career, which began at the Colombia-Coldeportes team and then moved up to WorldTour level with IAM Cycling from the start of last year.

As can be the case with non-Europeans, adjusting to life in cycling's heartlands can be tricky, and Pantano described how his first season at WorldTour level was a steep learning curve, but one that has paved the way to this success.

"It's my second victory in Europe – the first came at the Tour de Suisse [last month], and now to win in the Tour gives me a lot of happiness," he said in his post-stage press conference in Culoz.

"I was third at the Tour de l'Avenir that Quintana won [2010], and after that I worked really hard and thankfully I got the opportunity to step up to the WorldTour and that changed my life.

"You learn to be more professional. This year is going better than last year, and it's been about knowing how to ride at this level – that's what's made the difference. I'm really happy, I've worked hard, and I'm so pleased to have won today."

A future without IAM

IAM Cycling announced in May that it would fold at the end of this season, unable to secure sufficient sponsorship for next season.

Somewhat ironically, their first ever Grand Tour stage wins – the biggest successes of their five-year tenure – came after the decision to stop, first through Roger Kluge at the Giro d'Italia and now here at the Tour.

For Pantano, this was the perfect way to say 'thank you' to the team that brought him to Europe and the highest echelons of the sport.

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"The fact that the team is folding at the end of the year makes me sad because it's the team that gave me the opportunity to turn pro in the WorldTour," he said.

"But that's life – everything that begins must come to an end, and I'm really happy, and it's the perfect way to repay all they've done for me."

When riders know they have no team for next year, their minds naturally turn to finding a new home and, in that regard, this victory will have done Pantano no harm whatsoever. Not that he desperately needed it, by the sounds of it. He revealed that he isn't short of suitors, though this performance on cycling's biggest stage will no doubt have provided him with extra negotiating power.

"I'm really happy. There are various propositions but we'll have to wait until August to talk about which team I'll be at next year," he said cagily, aware of the fact that the UCI's transfer window only opens officially next month.

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