The Continental teams in the Tour Colombia peloton are dotted with faces familiar from the WorldTour. Race leader Rodrigo Contreras had stints at QuickStep and Astana. His Nu Colombia teammate Sergio Henao won Paris-Nice in 2017. Giro d’Italia stage winner Jonathan Caicedo is here with Mexican squad Petrolike.
For most, the prospect of returning to the WorldTour seems a distant one, and in some cases, it isn’t even an ambition at all. Alejandro Osorio, however, is perhaps the exception to the rule, and the Colombian champion illustrated as much with his fine victory on stage 3, where he emerged from an elite group that included Rigoberto Urán and Egan Bernal at the end of a breathless circuit race around Tunja.
It was hard to shake off the sense that Osorio was riding like a man with a point to prove. He has been plying his trade with GW Erco Shimano since he was fired by Bahrain Victorious in 2022, just three months and two races into his spell with the team. In a brief statement at the time, Bahrain said that Osorio had been sacked for what they termed as “multiple contract breaches.”
“It was unjust, it wasn’t anything big enough to destroy a person like that,” Osorio insisted when he took a seat in the press room in Tunja on Thursday. “For me it was like the destruction of my career, so now I’m just enjoying being where I am. But if God wants me in Europe, I’d go gladly.”
In the immediate aftermath of his departure from Bahrain, Osorio had indicated that he intended to sue for wrongful dismissal, but finance dictated otherwise. “I couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer to appeal it against a team like Bahrain who have a lot of money,” he explained, before going to outline the contract breaches in more detail.
“One day I went to eat at a gelateria, and I was told I wasn’t following the nutritionist’s instructions,” he said. “Another day I went to a shopping centre to buy a sim card and I was told I’d broken the COVID health bubble. I was under a lot of pressure.
“Then I was very sick after Strade Bianche, I was vomiting, and they put me in isolation. I went home to Andorra without taking my helmet from the bus. Once I was there, I said to myself that I shouldn’t go out wearing another brand’s helmet, and I made the mistake of uploading a friend’s ride into my TrainingPeaks profile. That was the most serious thing I did. Yes, it was a mistake, but not big enough to destroy a person like they did.”
Coppi e Bartali