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Some of My Heroes Were Colombian Cyclists.,
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This review is from: Kings of the Mountains: How Colombia's Cycling Heroes Changed Their Nation's History (Paperback)Anyone who has read my reviews will be forgiven for thinking that 'All my heroes are cowboys'. Well a lot of them are, but there are also a few cyclists amongst them, one being Lucho Herrera a rider from Colombia who was only the second rider to win "king of the mountains" jerseys in all three grand tours. He wore the distinctive 'Cafe De Colombia' shirt with great success during the eighties. My first memory of him was when he seemed to sprout wings and glide away from everyone to victory on the ascent of Alpe d'Huez on stage 17 in the 1984 Tour De France. After this I was constantly noticing how the 'Cafe De Colombia' shirt was always prominent during the gruelling mountain stages. These mystery men from Colombia attacked in the most ridiculous places, and reputations meant nothing to them. Fabio Parra finished third overall in the 1988 Tour De France, a magnificent achievement. I have always wondered how this relatively poor country managed to produce such a wealth of great cyclists, and this book provided me with all the answers in an informative and entertaining way.
These men competed in Colombia's own grand tour, the Vuelta a Colombia over ridiculous terrain and ascents that makes those on the Tour de France look like a cakewalk. Almost all the great Europeans who competed in this event were utterly destroyed by the terrain and altitude, including most notably the great Fausto Coppi. It was fascinating to find out how much cycling is loved in Colombia and how it has influenced the country. But there were other great cyclists apart from Herrera and Parra who came from a dynasty of great cyclists. There was the legendary Cochise, the indomitable Zipa, Ramon Hoyos, whose biography was written by none other than Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Then there was Nino, Alfonso Florez and more recently Santiago Botero. There were many other fine cyclists too numerous to mention who were churned out on the Colombian production line. Sadly money and politics have put an end to those halcyon days. It is a great story that deserves telling by a fine writer who has lived amongst these men and knows his stuff. No Marquez for sure, but not bad. He has a genuine heart for the Colombian underdog, and so do I. When I take my old legs to the Pyrenees this summer I will wear my battered old eighties Cafe De Colombia shirt with pride as I attempt the Tourmalet. Unfortunately I will be but a pale shadow of those cycling legends. The memories live on!
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