Before Tejo was declared the official national sport of Colombia, cycling was the thing.

Back in the 1980's, Colombia sent several professional teams to compete in the most important cycling races in the world -- Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and Giro de Italia. Amazingly enough, while they never won the yellow jersey, many times they brought home the polka-dot one -- representing the KING OF THE MOUNTAIN. The press at the time nicknamed them the ESCARABAJOS (the beetles) because they could climb up anything.

Most of the team members were from Altiplano Cundiboyacense and trained in the high oxygen deprived peaks of Boyacá. The team itself lacked much of the finese of their European counterparts. At one point, a French journalist wondered why the Colombians were boiling rocks in between stages of the race. It turned out to be -- Boyaco Gatorade (as my husband calls it) -- or Agua de Panela.

The big names of the 1980's were: Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra. Today, there is a new torch bearer Mauricio Soler who performed well in the recent Giro de Italia.

If you would like to see Lucho Herrera win a stage of the Tour de France in 1985, check this out:


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