Richard Carapaz raced to glory and a solo victory on the queen stage of the Tour Colombia, rounding off an attacking display from his EF Education-EasyPost team on the 30km Alto del Vino.
Along with teammate Esteban Chaves, the Ecuadorian attacked several times on the closing ascent as his team made use of their strength in number among the elite lead group of contenders.
Eventually, he made his attacks tell as he pulled clear of his competitors with 5km to run. Behind him, Jonathan Caicedo (Petrolike) and race leader Rodrigo Contreras (Nu Colombia) led the chase and trailed in for second and third places, with Contreras successfully defending the yellow jersey in the process.
Behind them, Egan Bernal (Colombia), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost), Iván Sosa (Movistar), and Chaves rounded out the top seven on a day where the biggest hitters in the peloton came out to play.
How it unfolded
Leaden clouds and chill air greeted the Tour Colombia caravan as it gathered in Cota for the start of stage 5, and rain was soon falling steadily over the altopiano around Zipaquirá. By the time the race got underway, however, the rain had abated, and the sun had burned its way through the cloud.
In this corner of the world, where the weather is typically as variable as a summer afternoon in Galway, it always helps to be prepared for all conditions. With that in mind, Movistar dispatched the retired Alejandro Valverde – here in Colombia in an ambassadorial role – ahead of the race to ride up the final, 30km haul of the Alto del Vino and provide an idea of the latest conditions for Nairo Quintana.
The penultimate stage of the Tour Colombia was all about the Alto del Vino. The peloton tackled it from it from its gentler, southern approach early in the stage for a category 3 ascent before turning and climbing back up its hors categorié northern slopes for the stage finish.
The mountainside formed a natural amphitheatre, creating an atmosphere akin to a football stadium atop the climb. Indeed, that fervour was evident all along the route. Cycling’s equivalent of La Bombonera stretched from Cota to El Rosal, from La Vega to Villeta. It was hard to argue with the assertion of Colombia’s first maillot jaune Victor Hugo Peña at the start: “This is our Tour de France.”
There was a flurry of early attacking before the break of the day took shape on the first ascent of the Alto del Vino. It was notable that Quintana had a Movistar teammate aboard. Brazilian Vinicius…