Quintana, Uran, Gaviria launch new Colombia Oro y Paz race
Movistar, Team Sky, Quick-Step Floors, and EF Education First confirmed for February stage race
Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Urán, and Fernando Gaviria were all in the Colombian capital of Bogota on Thursday to attend the official presentation of the new Colombia Oro y Paz race, which will hold its inaugural edition in February 2018.
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Colombia has had a new wave of talent coming through and making an impact in Europe in the past decade, and the new race will see stars of the international peloton descend on Colombia to compete.
At the moment, the country's premier event is the category 2.2 Vuelta a Colombia, but the Colombia Oro y Paz will enter the UCI with 2.1 categorisation and will therefore feature WorldTour and Professional Continental teams.
Movistar, Team Sky, Quick-Step Floors, and EF Education First-Drapac will be the four WorldTour teams on the start line.
Quintana has confirmed his participation in the Movistar team alongside his brother Dayer and fellow Colombians Carlos Betancur and Winner Anacona. Gaviria, too, has already confirmed his presence in a Quick-Step Floors line-up that contains Julian Alaphilippe and Colombian neo-pro Alvaro Hodeg, while Urán will lead EF-Drapac.
Team Sky haven't confirmed any riders but the Henao cousins, Sergio and Sebastian, are expected to ride, and possibly also new signing Egan Bernal.
Other Colombian WorldTour riders, such as Esteban Chaves, Miguel Angel Lopez, Jarlinson Pantano, Darwin Atapuma could all still take part in the event under the banner of a national team. The recently retired Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso will also be in attendance as special guests.
There will be eight Professional Continental teams in action: Manzana Postobón, Israel Cycling Academy, UnitedHealthcare, Androni-Sidermec, Euskadi-Murias, Burgos-BH, Holowesko-Citadel, CCC Sprandi Polkowice.
The Continental teams will be: Team Iluminate, Trevigiani-Hemus, Coldeportes-Zenu, Medellín Inder, Bicicletas Strongman, GW Shimano, EPM, and Orgullo Antioqueño. The final four teams will be national squads from Colombia, Italy, Argentina, and Russia.
"This is an event that Colombia needed," said Urán. "A race we can take part in, because we only have the chance to race in Colombia during the national championships, and now to have international teams coming to compete is great. It's important to showcase the infrastructure of Colombia and to be able to share it with people."
Quintana added: "It's a source of pride that the country will host such a big race, and not only with the participation of us Colombians but also with international riders. It will give great pride to showcase ourselves in front of the world."
Six stages but few major climbs
The presentation in Bogota also saw the confirmation of the route for the inaugural edition. The race, based in the Valle del Cauca region of western Colombia will comprise six road stages, running from February 6-11.
After a short circuit-based 99.9km stage in Palmira, there will be two more flat stages before the route becomes more hilly in the second half of the race, culminating in a summit finish at Manizales. Colombia has a habit of producing strong climbers from high-altitude locations but the race will not be especially mountainous given its position in the calendar towards the start of the season.
"It's the start of the season with gentle routes and not many mountains - we couldn't go up Letras or La Linea," Colombian Cycling Federation president Jorge Ovidio González told El Espectador.
Quintana added: "It's a considered route, which won't be too demanding given that it's barely February. If it were at a different time we could have had a route with climbs topping 3000 metres. For me it will set me up for my big objectives."
Stage 1: February 6, Palmira-Palmira, 99.9km
Stage 2: February 7, Palmira-Palmira, 183.4 km
Stage 3: February 8, Palmira-Buga, 163.2 km
Stage 4: February 9, Buga-El Tambo, 149.5 km
Stage 5: February 10, Pereira-Salento, 160.8 km
Stage 6: February 11, Armenia-Manizales, 184.3 km.
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