Last month, Stefan Bissegger took his first WorldTour win after his incredible performance in the…
Colombia’s U-23 road race champion Daniel Arroyave may only be 20-years-old, but he races with a confidence that suggests he’s been in the pro peloton much longer. But as with any new pro, there’s always an appreciation whenever a more experienced rider can help you acclimate to the stress that comes in your first year.
Enter another Colombian national champion: Sergio Higuita.
“He’s someone that I admire a lot and he has more knowledge than I do. My training with him has been good both physically and mentally. And also the friendship part helps,” said Arroyave.
During their training rides, these two are typically in some sort of beautiful mountain setting, like in the Aburrá Valley or the Santa Elena hills of Colombia. And they’re almost always listening to music.
“Sometimes we play songs for both of us, but the genre can vary. Sometimes we listen to techno, reggaeton, rock, or salsa,” said Arroyvave.
In these videos, usually shared on Arroyave’s Instagram stories, Higuita often appears to be laser-focused while Arroyave is happily singing along. That is, until Arroyave makes Higuita crack a smile. Nothing captures their personality differences better than their quippy comments to each other or their post training ride videos.
“He’s more prudent and conservative than I am. I’m a bit more impulsive and crazy. But a good kind of crazy,” Arroyave laughs.
Despite being nicknamed “Higuita monster”, Sergio would agree that he’s typically more on the quieter side, especially compared to a more boisterous Arroyave.
“Daniel is a very outgoing person and much more crazy about life. I’m more calm and analytical in everything I do,” said Higuita.
Despite the differences, their bond has extended far outside of cycling and training together. The two find themselves wanting to spend even more time with one another even after a long day of riding (they recently clocked in a six-hour session).
“Sometimes we have dinner somewhere afterwards and will share good times with other friends,” said Arroyave.
This pair shares far more similarities than they do differences. They’ll enjoy stopping for a chat paired with some fresh Colombian coffee along their routes and even share the same interest in cycling fuel. “We almost always use the same gels and energy bars,” said Arroyave.
And while Sergio is the more seasoned rider here, he’s also gained a lot from training with Daniel.
“Riding with him has been a great experience. We are both very happy and positive people. We enjoy cycling a lot and find happiness on the bike,” said Higuita.
At the beginning of race season, professional riders typically bond with one another at their team’s training camp. But given the COVID-19 protocols, there wasn’t a central place for our 2021 roster to connect with each other. Therefore, Daniel spent his early season training days in Colombia with another cycling role model of his, Rigoberto Urán.
Certainly not a bad trade-off. Still, it wasn’t an ideal situation for a young, gregarious rider who wanted to connect with his new teammates.
Since then, Arroyave has raced in the Tour Romandie, Gent-Wevelgem, and Paris-Nice where he was able to meet other riders in a similar situation to him, like Stefan Bissegger and Fumy Beppu. The new pro proved to be ready for his WorldTour debut and was a supportive teammate throughout each stage. He brought both a calming and charismatic energy to usually high-intensity and stressful race situations — perhaps thanks to his regular meditation practice or what he calls “mental training.”
Arroyave certainly signed onto EF Education-NIPPO during an interesting time, but he’s currently making the most of it in Colombia now with Higuita. The kind of mentorship he’s experiencing mirrors what Rigoberto Urán did when Higuita was a young rider. And we all know how well that has turned out.
“I appreciate him for everything that he’s taught me. I think that what we have in common is our ambition to improve. Our attitude is the same because we are both Colombian champions,” said Arroyvave.
We’re hoping to see this pair at a race together in the near future. As for now, we’ll enjoy their training rides on social media and hope for an invite to the next one.