The irreverent “beetle” Rodrigo Contreras held on to the lead despite the attacks of the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and his compatriot Egan Bernal to be crowned champion of the Tour Colombia 2024 this Sunday.
The 29-year-old rider, from the local Nu Colombia team, did not give in to the “Locomotora del Carchi” or the reborn Bernal, who competed as he did before a near-fatal accident he suffered in 2022, and kept the yellow jersey upon arrival to Bogotá in the sixth stage.
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“Ro-Ro”, as they affectionately call him, arrived in the same batch as Jonathan Restrepo, the winner of the day after a 138.7 kilometer route that started from the municipality of Sopó.
For the second consecutive day, he defended by straining his legs the advantage he had over Caparaz, winner of the queen stage at altitude and his main threat.
On Saturday in the feared Alto del Vino, arriving at more than 2,800 meters above sea level, the new champion fought alone against the entire EF Education-Easypost of the winner of the 2019 Giro d’Italia and remained at the top of the classification.
This Sunday he did the same in a 138.7 km stage that began in Sopó and ended in the Colombian capital, despite the fact that the EF, the American team of the Wolrd Tour (highest category), helped the Ecuadorian to earn bonus points in the sprint intermediates with the intention of unseating him.
Contreras never suffered and was always attached to the main lot. In the general classification, Carapaz was second, while Jonathan Caicedo, also Ecuadorian, was third. The top five is completed by Rigoberto Urán, in top shape at 37 years old, and Egan Bernal, who won the Tour de France in 2019.
– “So that they understand” –
Contreras’ victory was unexpected not only because of his recent results, but because of how young the Nu Colombia team is, created in January by a billionaire.
The new champion is an all-terrain cyclist, capable of winning in the mountains and in time trials, who at the beginning of his career was considered one of the greatest promises of Colombian cycling.
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However, he was unable to establish himself in European teams such as Deceuninck Quick-Step and Astana, so he returned to his country’s squads.
Now you join the select group of winners of the Colombia Tour along with Egan Bernal (2018), Miguel Ángel López (2019) and Sergio Higuita (2020). The competition has not been held since 2021 due to the pandemic and lack of economic support.
It is the first time that the winner is not part of a top category team.
It is “so that they understand that in national cycling there is also a high level,” said Contreras after the victory.