EF Education First Pro Cycling celebrated together on the podium atop Alto de las Palmos.
Nate Brown, Lawson Craddock, Alex Howes, Dani Martinez, Taylor Phinney and Rigoberto Uran won the Tour Colombia 2.1 team classification, the prize awarded to the team who has the lowest collective time among his top three finishers. Martinez headed up the charge in third place on the general classification. Uran followed with sixth place. Craddock managed 16th.
“It’s been a week where I’ve learnt a lot about my performance,” said Martinez. “Every day you learn something new and you take it forward to further races.”
It was a fitting end to the race that opened with another collective celebration. Six days earlier, the team in Colombia opened the week with its first team team trial win in nearly three years.
“The team classification is compensation for our hard work all week,” said sport director Juanma Garate. “They deserve it to go to the podium all together. They started the race going to the podium together, and they finished the same way.”
Stage 1: Medellín Team time trial
The underdogs aren’t meant to win, but when the underdogs win together, in a team time trial, according to our director sportive there is no better victory. EF Education First Pro Cycling stood on the podium side-by-side following the open stage team effort, cheered on by home crowd. Rigoberto Uran’s
Jonathan Vaughters: “It’s a good sign. The team came together really well today, and pulled off an upset victory which is always my favorite thing to do when nobody expects that to happen.”
The team felt strong, maybe a little too strong at times…
: Alex Howes“A couple of times I was yelling at Dani to slow down as loud as I could yell, literally I was screaming for him to slow down. I could hear Nate behind Taylor and we were all screaming at him to slow down, but he couldn’t hear us because of the noise from the crowd.”
Stage two: La Ceja
There are some days when losing the leader’s jersey tactically helps the situation, as long as you’re losing it to the right person. We looked to Alex Howes and Taylor Phinney to keep the breakaway in check before handing the reins over to the sprint teams and gifting the jersey to Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck – QuickStep)
Juanma Garate: “It’s nice to have the jersey with Rigo in Colombia but I want to say that I’m happy we lost it. If we were smart, this would be the outcome. To save energy for one day can make the difference at the end of the week.”
Stage three: Llanogrande
Some people are born to be on a stage in front of a crowd, Rigoberto Uran is one of them. Taking the leader’s jersey back after stage three meant Uran would be starting stage four with it in his hometown of Medellín. There were a lot of happy Colombians that day.
Rigoberto Uran: “It’s going to be really beautiful to start tomorrow’s race in the leader’s jersey in Medellín, I’m really looking forward to sharing it and experiencing all the happiness with the people.”
Stage four: Medellín
When you start the day with Rigo in the leader’s jersey in his home city, you know it’s going to be a crazy day. For the team, the jersey created a heavy workload. The team proved up for it and gave everything it had to keep the week-long objective alive: win the overall
Alex Howes : “We’re in the heart of Rigo nation, it’s a little overwhelming at times, and Rigo has the jersey so we’re back on the front today which means more time in the wind myself, but it’s ok, because I love it.”
But when a guy nicknamed “Superman” goes up the road it’s never a good thing.
Nate Brown: “Some of the guys didn’t realise it was Lopez going away so I tried to get the whole peloton to go with me and bridge across to them. A bunch of guys just let me go across so then I was in a weird spot between the break and the peloton. So I sat up and waited for the bunch but then by the time we got organised the break was already 40 seconds up the road.”
The team lost the jersey after stage four, and this time it wasn’t planned.
Stage five: La Unión
As we crawled up through winding roads to a small town at 2,600m (2186ft) it was La Unión’s day to shine. A crash on a descent early in the race split the peloton. Four brutal circuits before the final ascent back up to La Unión did further damage. The queen stage wrung the peloton out to dry.
Taylor Phinney: “We knew it was going to be super hard because we rode the circuit a couple days before the race started and just the way they race here is full gas from the start. There was a crash at the beginning which split the peloton, and I was a bit behind it, Then we just started climbing and the guys took off and I was chasing for a long time and then it turned into a gran fondo for me.”
It was not a gran fondo for Dani Martinez, who managed to make the early breakaway and animate the finale. Our best young rider picked up eight seconds out on the road, courtesy of intermediate sprint bonuses, finished fourth on the stage and jumped up to eight overall.
: Lawson Craddock “I think we raced pretty well today, Juanma in our morning meeting told us to have a killer mentality and I think we really went into today’s stage with one. It was great for us having Dani up in the break, it was huge for us because we know he’s one of the strongest guys here and has a really good shot at the overall.”
Stage six: up, up and away to Las Palmas
The final stage of Tour Colombia 2.1 was decided by a drag race up Las Palmas, the 15-kilometer climb to summit finish. Dani Martinez, sporting the best young rider’s white jersey, was sixth across the line, crossing alongside teammate and compatriot Rigoberto Uran. The team had aimed for the top step of the podium and came away with third overall with and the top team prize.
Lawson Craddock: “Winning the team general classification is always a great award. So often the sport is represented by one rider on top of the podium. When you can take the team GC and bring everyone up there to share the success, that’s always pretty special.”
Martinez’s result on the general classification came as a direct result of assistance for his childhood hero Rigoberto Uran. Martinez put in a tremendous effort on stage five and began to pay for it in the closing kilometers of stage six. Uran held back, pacing Martinez back onto the overall podium.
Dani Martinez: “The team has done the most amazing job this week. I feel so proud of them, and it was incredible for Rigo to have waited for me today. This is something that really means a lot to me. He’s such an brilliant rider and leader who has won so many races and for him to wait for me makes me feel quite emotional.”
All photos: Getty Images
Want to visit Colombia? EF Education First can take you there. Learn more at ef.com.