The withdrawal of Miguel Ángel López in the fourth stage of the last Giro d’Italia deprived Colombia of an important performancebecause the cyclists who remained had their own roles in their teams and there were few options to appear, to go for a partial victory, to fight for the general.
Santiago Buitrago ran his second major competition after the Vuelta a España 2021 and he was conditioned to perform the work of a servant to help his boss, Mikel Landa, win the competition. Although he submitted to this regime, the 22-year-old runner from Bogota had the strength and the head not only to fulfill his role, but to aim for a partial victory.
Buitrago finished second in the stage which ended in Cogne. That day, the video of the cyclist crying over losing the fraction went viral, but he got his revenge. In Lavarone, three days later, those same tears streamed down his face, but of joy, after winning the stage, Colombia’s 32nd in the race and the first for him in three weeks of competition. Buitrago recounted the intimacies of the Giro, told how he forced the march and talked about the options he has to be the leader of Bahrain’s structure.
Buitrago, in interview
How do you analyze cold what happened in the Giro?
Phew. I think about it with a cool head and to have taken this step, to have been close to winning another one and finishing 12th overall, to have greatly influenced Mikel Landa’s podium is a satisfaction. It is for me very well in view of the rest of the season.
Is it true that you “asked permission” to go through the step?
In the team there were certain roles and goals, one was to win the title with Landa. We were under the orders of the team and if they told me to wait, then I had to.
This does not happen…
When I was on the run, they never stopped me and gave me the opportunity to aim for victory. On the bus there was talk of getting into the escape, but we were clear that the main thing was to wait for Landa.
Why the tears at the stadium you lost?
I felt a bit frustrated, not because something bad happened to me, but because I tried my best and lost because the body didn’t give me more, it was anger at myself.
How was the scene set up?
We knew that the first port would be essential, being on the break was ideal. It was not a stage that I had in mind, it was not marked, one of us had to be in front, because the idea was to help Landa, who had to attack in the penultimate prize , that was the plan, that’s why I was in front, to help him.
We played a little chess moving the pieces. I reached him, I was clear that I had to reach him before crowning to be calm at the end and not force a finish with him at the packing.
And what happened?
On the last climb, I tried to catch up with the one who was on the run. We played a little chess moving the pieces. I reached him, I was clear that I had to reach him before crowning to be calm at the end and not force a finish with him at the packing. I saw it, I had it close, I got there and recovered a little, I spent a lot before I reached it and I had to get rid of it so that I wouldn’t he attacks me at the end and that’s what i did.
How was the party ?
That day people congratulated me, in the team we were very happy, we opened the champagne at the hotel, it was everyone’s triumph and it was a very special evening.
What did Landa tell her?
What he told me is super special. It’s very moving to hear these words from the team, people who have accomplished very important things in their careers and who have fulfilled me. It’s like recognizing that the job is well done. Congratulations filled me.
Does this victory give you the opportunity to move up to the team?
Sure. It gives me confidence in what is to come. It makes me want to continue working, to be more attentive to the details to be improved.
Could we soon have a Colombian at the head of Bahrain?
It’s all a process and that’s what they want in the team, to bring in young riders and look to the future.
It’s a team of veterans and you would have options to lead it soon…
The years pass and with me there are cyclists who must be fought. You have to follow their legacy, learn. I’m proud to see myself there and to have the leadership at some point. There’s no fear with this, but you have to take it slow.
What is missing for this?
Maybe repeat what I did, because it would help me consolidate, to be a driver who can fight for something better in the future. I don’t want to put pressure on myself to fight for a podium in a big tournament, but repeating what I’ve done is key.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2022?
I did not set the schedule. Everything will depend on what will happen on the Tour.
Editor-in-Chief of THE TIME
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