Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana isn’t the only Colombian winning medals on two wheels, after Colombia’s Marcelo Gutierrez finished first overall in mountain biking’s most difficult downhill race on Tuesday.
The Crankworx Garbanzo Downhill at Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia is widely considered the most grueling event in all of international mountain biking. It takes competitors down 3,400 vertical feet of pain, through three distinct “bioclimactic” zones, each with their own set of weather conditions and terrain challenges, from the top of the Garbanzo summit, all the way to the valley below.
On Tuesday, Gutierrez finished Garbanzo’s unrelenting downhill plunge in 12 minutes and 28.24 seconds, almost a full eight seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, beating his previous personal best by over 10 seconds.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for the last three years of racing the Garbanzo Downhill,” he told reporters after the race. “I had a great training run and have been training hard and learning everyday. It all came together and I am very happy.”
After finishing second in his previous two runs at mountain biking’s most extended downhill endurance race, the Colombian from Manizales had nothing but praise for his team.
“So happy to finally take first! It’s incredible to have a whole team and such a great group supporting you,” he said via twitter.
Que felicidad por fin llevarme el primer lugar! Es increíble el tener todo un equipo y un gran grupo… http://t.co/EtTeV3eW80
— Marcelo Gutierrez (@marceloguvi) August 14, 2013
With first place in the toughest event in downhill racing to add to his two top-10 finishes in the downhill World Cup and all the individual honors he’s racked up across Colombia and Latin America, Gutierrez is steadily transitioning from the world’s best urban downhill biker to one of the world’s best mountain bikers period.