Colombia’s cycling team signs former under-23 road race champion Fabio Duarte ahead of their 2012 debut season.
The signing of Duarte signals the Colombian team’s intent to make a big impact on the sport next year. The Coldeportes team will be lead by experienced general manager Claudio Corti, who has previously worked with established squads Saeco and Barloworld.
The Colombian team moved quickly to fend off fierce competition to snap up the sought-after cyclist after his previous team Geox-TMX unexpectedly announced they were quiting the sport.
“Duarte’s arrival represents an important step for us and I am happy to see how the rider has taken on board what we are trying to do and shown his belief in this project despite some significant offers from other teams,” said Corti.
The Italian team manager added that the team will be releasing more details on its line-up in the next few days, with former Tour de France race leader Victor Hugo Peña touted as another possible big name acquisition.
Duarte raced with the Colombia es Pasion Coldeportes team between 2007 and 2009, and two years ago won a stage and took second overall in the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias. He also won a stage and the overall classification in the Circuito Montañés and two further stage wins in the Colombian national tour.
The team confirmed today that 25-year-old Duarte will have a program of mainly European racing. “The program shall be announced in the next weeks,” stated a team official to VeloNation. “However the team will be based in Italy with all riders staying most of the time in Italy. Consequently European races will be a big part of seasonal activity, with the details to be refined soon according to organizers’ invitations.”
Duarte’s signing will provide a boost for the squad’s goal of acquiring a Pro Continental license, which will allow the team to compete in Europe’s Grand Tours, including the internationally renowned Tour de France. It is hoped this will mark the resurgence of Colombian cycling, which dominated the mountain climbs during the mid 80’s with the Cafe de Colombia team.
The team’s management will also include former ONCE pro and Tour de France stage winner Oliverio Rincon, as director of European races, while the experienced Hernan Buenahora will work alongside Colombia es Pasion director Oliverio Cardenas to direct the teams efforts in the Americas.