Gallery: Team Colombia prepare for season debut

Team Colombia has been preparing for its 2013 season debut at the Tour Mediterranèen on February 6, with a training camp in the Italian Dolomites.

The team of talented Colombian climbers gathered in Arco last week, a few days after the young Colombian riders in the squad arrived in Italy. For some of the riders the cold and even snowy conditions were a shock to the system but with a wild card invitation to the Giro d'Italia already secured and with hopes of riding the Ardennes Classics, the have plenty of races to aim for.

Last year the 'Escarabajos' (the Beatles) won six races, including the mountain stage of the Giro del Trentino with Darwin Atapuma and the Coppa Sabatini with Fabio Duarte. Both riders have stayed with the team for 2013 and Italian team manager Claudio Corti has signed Leonardo Duque from Cofidis and brought in six more talented young Colombians.

The riders showed off the new jersey and the new Wilier Triestina bikes at the get together and studied the Sega di Ala climb that will be climbed on the final day of this year's Giro del Trentino and the Mori-Polsa climb that will host the mountain time trial in this year's Giro d’Italia. The team also hopes to secure an invitation to the Tour of Poland WorldTour race in the summer, which starts in the Dolomites.

“The Dolomites is a perfect place to train for us because there are plenty of hard climbs and we found the course of both these two races very demanding and challenging." Atapuma said.

 “The Polsa climb is quite constant and so in some ways pretty similar to the ones we have in Colombia. I immediately felt good on it."

Colombia General manager Claudio Corti has an 18-rider roster for 2013, allowing the Italian-based squad to race a double programme. Another squad of riders will ride the Volta ao Algarve, with others following an European programme of races that includes the GP Lugano, the Trofeo Laigueglia, the GP di Camaiore, the Giro del Lazio. In late March the team will also target the Coppi & Bartali race and the Criterium International.

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