Top 10 Colombian cyclists in cycling history - Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal took the South-American nation to the top of the world

Colombia is one of the great powers in the world of cycling. Especially as far as climbers are concerned, although below you will see that they also have riders who stand out in other modalities of the sport. The first big wave of stars of the country came in the 80s, where they achieved numerous Top 10 in grand tours. The second has been in the 2010s.

That does not mean that there have not been great Colombian riders before, in between and today. As of today, we have to talk about very powerful names like Einer Rubio or Sergio Higuita, who are still young, so we will see in the future. But for the moment look into who are the 10 best in the history of the Latin American nation, as of today. First of all, there are some special mentions that we have not been able to include, such as Edgar Corredor, Oliverio Rincón or Carlos Betancur.

Here we leave you with the Top 10 best Colombian cyclists, in the opinion of CiclismoAlDia's Victor Gonzalez:

10. Daniel Martínez

The first is a personal bet. He is still 28 years old and in the prime of his career, so everything indicates that he should even move up in the future. But we wanted to remain cautious and wait before placing him higher, or lower, depending on how you look at it. As of today, he is second overall in the Giro d'Italia 2024, with two stages to go, which would be his best result in a grand tour.

He was already fifth in the 2021 edition, when he was the main domestique of his teammate and compatriot Egan Bernal, who we may talk about later in this ranking. He also has a stage win in the Tour de France (2020). On top of that, we are talking about a cyclist who has won two of the most important one-week tours on the calendar, the Critérium du Dauphiné (2020) and the Itzulia Basque Country (2022).

Finally, he is more than just a climber. He is a man who has won the Colombian time trial national championships four times, an absolute record. This year he left behind Israel Ochoa, with whom he shared that record.

9. Miguel Ángel López

Currently in serious problems due to doping abnormalities... It's a shame because he is still 30 years old and had the potential to go further, but we are talking about a cyclist who has won one stage in the Tour de France (2020) and three in the Vuelta a España (2017 and 2021). And also a winner of big races like the Tour de Suisse (2016) and the Volta a Catalunya (2019).

In grand tours, whenever he has finished the three weeks he has always finished in the Top 10 of the final general classification. Seven times he has finished in the top 10 (4 in the Vuelta, 2 in the Giro d'Italia and 1 in the Tour). His best result is third, twice, standing on the podium in the Giro and the Vuelta, both in 2018, his best year in this type of race.

Miguel Ángel López wins at the 2022 Tour of the Alps. @Sirotti
Miguel Ángel López wins at the 2022 Tour of the Alps. @Sirotti

8. Esteban Chaves

He has 3 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia (2016, 2018 and 2019) and 2 in the Vuelta a España (2015), has finished three times in the Top 5 of a grand tour and twice on the podium (5th in the Vuelta 2015, 2nd in the Giro 2016 and 3rd again in Spain in the same year 2016). We are talking about his best season as a professional cyclist, where he took the victory in Il Lombardia as well, being the first and only Colombian to win a Monument.

7. Fernando Gaviria

He is the only sprinter in this list. A specialty where Colombia does not stand out so much, but Gaviria deserves his mention and inclusion among the ten most important cyclists in the history of his country. He is the third Colombian with the most stage victories in grand tours, with 7 in total, one behind the first two (which he could reach in his career, as he is still 29 years old).

He has 2 wins in the Tour de France (2018) and no more and no less than 5 in the Giro d'Italia (2017 and 2019). What he is, he is the rider from Colombia who has raised his arms the most times in a single three-week race, with those five successes in the Italian race.

Fernando Gaviria became Colombia's star sprinter amidst a field of climbers. @Sirotti
Fernando Gaviria became Colombia's star sprinter amidst a field of climbers. @Sirotti

6. Fabio Parra

Here we go with the first one who is not active, one of the pioneers in terms of the success of Colombian cycling. He was barely 8 years in the elite, but that gave him 4 stage victories in grand tours, 2 in the Tour de France (1985 and 1988) and another 2 in the Vuelta a España (1988 and 1991).

He raced 7 times in the Vuelta, and in all of them he finished in the Top 8, including a second place in the 1989 edition, his only podium finish in Spain. In addition, he also participated four times in the Tour de France, finishing three times in the Top 8, also climbing one of the steps in 1988, when he was third in the final general classification.

5. Rigoberto Urán

One of Colombia's heroes in modern cycling. The first on this list to have won stage victories in each of the three grand tours on the calendar. He has a total of four wins in the three-week races: 2 in the Giro d'Italia (2013 and 2014), 1 in the Tour de France (2017) and 1 in the Vuelta a España (2022).

In terms of final overall rankings, he was never able to win a grand tour but finished second three times (Giro d'Italia 2013 and 2014 and Tour de France 2017). In addition, he has shown great regularity over the years, and a lot of consistency and longevity, placing in the Top 10 of up to ten grand tours in his career.

Finally, it should be noted that he was the Olympic Games runner-up in the road race at the London 2012 Olympic Games, finishing behind Alexandre Vinokourov.

4. Santiago Botero

The greatest time trial specialist in the history of Colombia. He also defended uphill, proof of which is that he won the KOM jersey in the 2000 Tour de France. In addition, he has 6 stage victories in grand tours, half of them in the time trial, three in the Tour and the same amount in the Vuelta a España.

He won the Tour de Romandie in 2005, finished three consecutive times in the top eight of the French round, but his most important success is undoubtedly the time trial World Cup in 2002. He is the only Colombian world champion on the road. As if that were not enough, he had just won the bronze medal in the previous edition.

3. Lucho Herrera

The best pure climber of his generation, the first great myth of Colombian cycling along with Fabio Parra. The big difference is that he did manage to win a grand tour, being the first to do so for his country. He did it in the 1988 Vuelta a España. In addition, like Rigoberto Urán, he also has stage victories in the three grand tours.

He is one of those who surpasses Fernando Gaviria, with 8 wins: 3 in the Tour de France (1984 and 1985), as many in the Giro d'Italia (1989 and 1992) and 2 in the Vuelta (1987 and 1991). He also won the Critérium du Dauphiné twice (1988 and 1991). In addition to his victory in the Vuelta in 1988, he was four times among the top eight in a grand tour, three in the Tour and one in the Giro.

Egan Bernal is the first and only Colombian rider to have ever won the Tour de France; this happened in 2019. @Sirotti
Egan Bernal is the first and only Colombian rider to have ever won the Tour de France; this happened in 2019. @Sirotti

2. Egan Bernal

We place him second because of what he has done and what he could have been. He is still only 27 years old but the terrible crashes and injuries he has suffered throughout his short career suggest that, unfortunately, we will never see the best Bernal again. And we are talking about the only Colombian who has won the Tour de France (2019), and with that alone he deserves his place here.

He also triumphed in the 2021 Giro d'Italia, where he took two stage wins, and has won two major one-week races such as Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse, both in 2019, the best year of his career inarguably. If we take into account that he was just 22 years old that season, we can imagine what the Bogotá native could have achieved.

1. Nairo Quintana

What to say about Nairo Quintana that is not already known! He is not only for us the best cyclist in the history of Colombia, but also the most loved by the people of the country. He shares with Lucho Herrera the record of the Colombian with the most stage wins in grand tours with 8. For his part, he has 3 in the Giro d'Italia (2014 and 2017), 3 in the Tour de France (2013, 2018 and 2019) and 2 in the Vuelta a España (2016 and 2019).

In terms of final overall rankings, he is the rider from his country with the most podium finishes in grand tours. Twice in the Giro, three times in the Tour and once in the Vuelta leave him with 6 in total and at least one in each of the most important cycling races in the world. Finally, note that he has also won the Itzulia (2013), Volta a Catalunya (2016), Tour de Romandie (2016) and Tirreno Adriatico (2015 and 2017).

Nairo Quintana and his arch-rival Chris Froome. @Sirotti
Nairo Quintana and his arch-rival Chris Froome. @Sirotti

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