Colombian riders are more famous for their climbing skills than racing on the cobbles but on Sunday, Leonardo Duque hopes to be the first Colombian to ever get a result in Paris-Roubaix even though he is riding the “Hell of the North” for the first time in his career.
A good performance would be the perfect birthday present for Duque as he celebrates his 32nd birthday on Sunday and his recent results indicate he could do well. He finished 12th in Gent-Wevelgem and 19th at the Tour of Flanders. However he also went down in the high-speed crash at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday and is trying to recover from a back injury.
The result archive reveals the stories of just four audacious Colombians who have started Paris-Roubaix: Martin “Cochise” Rodriguez who rode in 1973 with Team Bianchi, Néstor Mora in 1994, Julio Cesar Ortegón in 1995 and Víctor Hugo Peña in 2003 and 2004 (with Discovery Channel) and 2005 (with Phonak).
“Leo is almost Belgian”, his directeur sportif Alain Deloeil explained. “He knows all the secrets of the cobbled races because he turned professional with a Flemish team”.
“One year, I remember the riders had terrible faces and I was also impressed by the performance of George Hincapie. He’s popular in Colombia because his father is from Medellin.”
“I know my building is quite unusual for the cobbles but it’s no problem for me! Perhaps it's even an asset because I need less pressure than the others in my tyres. I’m also good on a bike because I used to do some freestyle riding when I was a child. I could even jump on and off walls.”
That could allow him to make history and become the first Colombian to make it to the Roubaix velodrome and finish Paris-Roubaix.