The tour of California, oops, Colombia ends

Perhaps it was just a slip of the tongue, a geographical faux pas, off by just one measly continent further South.

The thirteenth edition of the Tour of California ended Saturday, May 19th but in terms of nomenclature, you could just as easily have called it the Tour of Colombia.

Gaviria at TOC. photo twisted spoke

Sprinter Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep Floors), who hails from La Ceja in the Antioquia region of Colombia, won three stage including the final ice-on-cake stage seven in Sacramento. He was clearly the fastest man in the race, hitting the line first in stage one, five and yes, seven. He made Mark Cavendish look ready for the retirement home and made Marcel Kittel appear grossly unprepared.

The man in the final yellow jersey of overall race winner was Team Sky’s Egan Bernal, who won both mountain stages, Gibraltar in Southern California and South Lake Tahoe in the Sierra mountains further North in convincing fashion. Bernal, who is all of 21 years of age and looks like he could barely disturb a weight scale, is from Bogotá, Colombia.

Bernal, start of stage 7. twisted spoke

Do the math and that’s five stage wins for the small South American country that seems to currently supply all the top climbers in the world. Countryman Daniel Martinez (EF Education), also from Bogotá, finished third overall on GC in California and spent the morning of the final stage chatting away like best buddies with Bernal.

Now, the world’s biggest show on two wheels, Le Grand Shindig, the Tour de France looms on the horizon. We’ll look to see how Gaviria fares against again against Kittel, Cavendish and Sagan and the other high-wattage stars. Based on his performance in Colombia North, we expect he’ll do just fine and score his first Tour victories.

Bernal & Martinez at start line

Meanwhile, Colombian’s Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education) will challenge Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali in the high mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees. And lest we forget, the pride of Pesca, Colombia, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) is climbing his way back into podium contention in the Giro d’Italia.

It’s an embarrassment of riches that payed off big time in the Tour of Col… California.

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