Chaves Wins Colombian National Championship
The 2023 Colombian National Championships took place in Colombia today. The scene was set for an exciting 237-kilometer race that would be contested on a nine-lap mountainous route around Bucaramanga in northern Colombia, near the Venezuelan border that was recently reopened because of political changes in Colombia that led to an improved political climate between the two nations.
The organizers welcomed 132 cyclists, including a range of famous professional road cyclists who have made a tradition of returning to their home country during the winter months to escape the cold weather in Europe, relax in the sun, recharge their batteries, socialize with family and friends, and train in the mountainous terrain.
Colombian cycling fans had travelled up to ten hours to watch their local cycling idols compete and the roads were lined with cheerful spectators who again created the special atmosphere that makes it such a joy to enjoy sporting events in South America.
The race was won by Esteban Chaves. Chaves attacked eight kilometers from the finish and soloed to victory ahead of Daniel Felipe Martinez (Ineos-Grenadiers; former EF Education First rider) who crossed the finish line 32 seconds later, closely tailed by Nairo Quintana (no team). Former UAE Team Emirates and Team Sky rider Sergio Henao finished sixth. Henao will compete for Team Denver Disruptors in 2023. Bora-Hansgrohe rider Sergio Higuita finished 20th, crossing the line 02:45 after Chaves.
Chaves will proudly wear the Colombian yellow, blue and red national colors on his EF Education-EasyPost jersey in 2023 and believes wearing the national champion jersey will be highly motivational for him.
“This is pretty special for me,” Chaves explained to Roadcycling.com. “Competing for the jersey is a dream for everyone growing up, dreaming of wearing the Colombian jersey during the Tour de France for example or during the Giro d’Italia. The whole season with the Colombian jersey, that is like, I am the man, I am the boss. It is like - Look at me, I am from Colombia.”
“At this time of the year, we are mostly all together, competing with each other, so it is more level,” Esteban explained before the start.
“People take the bus for ten hours just to see us. Wearing the national colors for a year is something I will never forget and winning here in Bucaramanga was spectacular, the people were crazy. I think today was the day I’ve seen most people shouting my name in my career and that gave me that warmth that made me push on until the very end.”
Chaves delivered lackluster results in 2022 and had to abandon the Vuelta a Espana. He will compete with teammates Richard Carapaz (Ecuador), Hugh Carthy (Great Britain) and fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran for a spot as team captain in the 2023 Giro d’Italia, Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana. Uran did not participate in today’s Colombian championships.
“There are many people who made this victory possible. My family, my wife. Today somebody special came too, Dr. Sandoval. Without his help this wouldn’t have been possible. He saved my career,” Chaves concluded with gratitude.