|Colombia-Coldeportes team at start of ATOC, courtesy of Bianchi USA|
Congratulations to Colombia-Coldeportes on their North American racing debut! This first-year Colombian national team gave an impressive performance at the 7th Amgen Tour of California.
|Fabio Duarte, 5th in Amgen Tour of California|
Fabio Duarte took 5th overall (1:36 back from winner Robert Gesink and ahead of favorites Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer). Darwin Atapuma finished 16th (4:28 behind).
The team also picked up 2nd (Atapuma) and 3rd (Duarte) place finishes on the race's toughest stage (Stage 7, Mount Baldy), with Most Aggressive Rider honors to Atapuma in Stage 7 and Most Courageous Rider awarded to Wilson Marentes in Stage 3.
|Atapuma taking the lead from Horner, courtesy of cyclingnews.com|
The strongest showing for the team came racing up the steep slopes of Mount Baldy in Stage 7. Radio Shack's Chris Horner, last year's defending champion, led a breakaway in an attempt to make up his 2:50 deficit and reclaim the yellow jersey. One by one, Horner dropped all other riders in the break except Darwin Atapuma. As the slopes steepened and the peloton closed the gap, Atapuma attacked and led the race until the final kilometer.
On the steep uphill finish in that final kilometer, Atapuma was barely outsprinted in the final meters by eventual race winner, Robert Gesink. Meanwhile, Duarte had passed all the race favorites on the final climb, sliding in just behind Atapuma for an impressive 3rd place finish. As Gesink moved up to claim the yellow jersey as the overall race leader, Duarte advanced from #16 to #5 in the GC standings.
|Fabio Duarte breaking away from the peloton, Courtesy of Bianchi USA|
"It was a very hard day. I was looking at Horner when he attacked, so I could stay in his wake and then press for the stage win," Atapuma said. "The stage win was so close, but second place in such an important stage at such an important race is a very good result."
Duarte, who rode through the jetsam caused by Gesink's explosive attack, was pleased with third on the stage. "We are very happy with our team display today. Our aim was to take the stage win, and the team gave its all to race this objective," Duarte said. "We came very close. This is the kind of result that says thank you to the whole staff and all the people working for us, and of course the team." Quotes courtesy of cyclingnews.com.The team deserves all the credit for their skill, strategy, and determination. A stated goal for the team was to be a part of every breakaway and dominate the toughest climbs. "Inspired by climbing" is the team's motto and their prowess was on display whenever the road turned steep. Viewers on NBC Sports were treated to images of the team out front in stages two, three, four, six, and seven, showing off the Bianchi Sempre.
|Bianchi Sempre Colombia-Coldeportes team bike, ATOC 2012|
Congratulations to the Bianchi Sempre and its North American Racing Debut! The Sempre was first released by Bianchi's famed Reparto Corse in fall 2010. Designed to be a more affordable version of Bianchi's Hors Categorie professional racing models, the Sempre features Bianchi's proven race geometry, Nanotech carbon technology, Ultra Thin Seat Stays, and BB30 bottom bracket. The Coldeportes team is proving that the Sempre is every bit as capable of winning pro races as its big brother the Oltre and a worthy successor to the models that propelled the likes of Coppi, Gimondi, and Pantani to victory.
|Bianchi Sempre with Shimano 105, $2299|
An amateur racer or road cycling enthusiast can purchase a complete Sempre featuring the exact frame - same geometry and identical carbon formulation - as the model raced by Coldeportes riders, starting at $2299 (Shimano 105). The exact frame and identical carbon fork with carbon steer tube is available in Ultegra ($3149), Ultegra Di2 ($4999), SRAM Red ($5999), and as a frameset ($1999). For those who prefer an authentic Italian version the Sempre is also offered in Veloce ($3099).
To find out more about the Colombia-Coldeportes team, you can visit their official website, fan them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. You can read about them in the recap of stages two, three, four, and seven on Cycling News.
To find out more about the Bianchi Sempre, visit Bianchi USA or read the many reviews posted here. You can also fan Bianchi on Facebook and follow Bianchi on Twitter.