From the prize-winning cycling writer Matt Rendell comes a book on the incredible rise of Colombian cycling
By winning the 2019 Tour de France, Egan Bernal became the race's youngest champion in 110 years, and the first from the South American nation of Colombia. His victory brought decades of national yearning to fruition, and capped the achievements of a golden generation of Colombian cyclists.
For, in the years before Egan's victory, Nairo Quintana won the Tours of Italy and Spain, even coming within 72 seconds of winning the Tour. Rigoberto Uran, Esteban Chaves, Miguel Angel Lopez and Fernando Gaviria took stage wins, donned leader's jerseys and made final podiums at cycling's greatest events. They, and other world-class Colombian talents, made their nation a cycling superpower.
Yet its cycling sons are not the products of a rigorous sports system that nurtures them through the ranks to the pinnacle of globalised sport. They come from harder backgrounds, that surprise, shock - even, at times, enchant.
The visibility they have secured their homeland has helped open it to international tourism and trade. After decades of violence, corruption and civil unrest, a new, revitalised Colombia has re-entered the community of nation, thanks to its cyclists.
This book is about their lives and dreams: it tells inspiring stories of overcoming poverty and violence, sickness and corruption. It explores the unique sporting microcosm that lies behind Colombia's world-beating riders, and how their achievements spurred a nation to prosperity and peace.
MATT RENDELL survived Hodgkin's Disease and lecturing at British and Latvian universities before entering TV and print journalism. He first visited Colombia in 1998, and his Channel 4 documentary Kings of the Mountains (2000) was described in The Observer as 'a gem, telling us more about the essence of sport in under an hour than a season's worth of Premiership matches'. His first book, Kings of the Mountains: How Colombia's Cycling Heroes Changed their Nation's History (Aurum Press 2002), was described in The Times as 'meticulous, elegant and sensitive'. He has worked on the British terrestrial coverage of the Tour de France since 1997, he has won three National Sporting Club awards, and his book The Death of Marco Pantani was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. Colombia Es Pasion is his fifth book about Colombia.