While the entire world rightfully praises Steven Seagal for his artistic achievements in the realm of cinema, there are only a handful of us who also recognize his impressive musical oeuvre. Similarly, while every cycling fan follows the Tour de France, few of them know about the Tour de L'Avenir. This is understandable, since the Tour de L'Avenir is an amateur event, but like Seagal's musical output, it deserves a second look/listen. For us Colombianos, the race has always been of great importance since it has consistently showed us future prospects in the sport, much like Seagal's music has shown us his passion for shiny kimonos.
Golden kimonos aside, the Tour de L'Avenir has been important to us because in 1980, the race was won by Alfonso Florez (you can read about his career and eventual murder here), and in 1985, it was Martin Ramirez who won the event.
Continuing in the tradition of past Colombian victories, this year's race (which ended last week), was won by Nairo Quintana. Shortly after his victory, Quintana was congratulated via phone by Colombia's effusive President Juan Manuel Santos. Speaking of Santos, my wife mentioned recently that he looks a bit like thespian and squirrel hat-wearer William Shatner (whose musical output is also admirable, by the way). I sort of agree. Below is a picture of President Santos meeting Venezuelan leader Chavez, where you can judge for yourself if a similarity exists. The picture, by the way, was taken at a hugely important meeting not long ago. You see, earlier this year, Colombia/Venezuela relations were at an all time low. Colombian government employees were kicked out of Venezuela, and the Colombian government pulled its ambassador for the first time ever. Why am I telling you all this? Because the problems between the two countries came to an end when newly elected President Santos/Shatner went to Caracas and met with Chavez. So what did Chavez wear for this very important meeting, which was photographed a million times over and televised live? His awesome Venezuelan flag tracksuit, of course.
The only thing more troubling than Chavez's tracksuit is the painting of Simon Bolivar in the background, which depicts him as someone who suffered from severe fetal alcohol syndrome. Where does Chavez keep his sense of dignity? Under his tracksuit, of course.
But let's get back to cycling, and the Tour de L'Avenir in particular. Also congratulated via phone by the president was Quintana's teammate Jarlinson Pantano, who was third overall, and won the mountains classification as well. Quintana has been invited to meet with the Colombian president personally, but not before a large crowd welcomed him to his home town of Arcabuco. See video below as further proof of how seriously Colombianos take this race:
In one last note about Colombian cycling: News has started to spread through the Colombian media about the strong possibility of team Movistar (currently Caisse d'Epargne) having a Continental team in Colombia next year, thus ensuring that its riders move up the ranks and potentially into the Pro Tour team. Speaking about Movistar reminds me of something. The name of the company, and thus the team, is is pronounced Moh-vee star, not Moo-vee star. Similarly, can people once and for all pronounce Carlos Sastre's last name correctly? It's Sas-treh...not Sas-trah. I know that the people who make this error don't speak Spanish fluently, and I also acknowledge that I mangle plenty of words in English on a daily basis since its not my first language...but god almighty, if I hear "Sastrah" one more time (I'm looking at you Eurosport) I'm gonna' beat that person with an extension cord.
Oh, while I'm on the subject of idle threats, I'd like to point out that I have yet again been hoist(ed) by my own petard. In the past, I've often threatened different people on this blog with severe beatings which I said I would gladly dispense with the aid of my trusty extension cord. Well, wouldn't you know it...only about a week ago, while doing yard work, I foolishly yanked on an extension cord while trying to untangle it. Upon doing so, the plug of said extension cord flew directly into my eye, giving me a swollen eyelid. The force with which the inanimate object beat me up was so severe, that it nearly knocked me, and it launched me straight into the bushes (and thus into one of my miniature dachshund's fresh turds). As I lay there, nearly comatose, unable to breathe from the pain, and now covered in dog feces, I remembered instantly how many times I had threatened to do this very thing to other people. Now that I see how horrible an extension cord beating can really be (even when it's self-inflicted), I apologize for having made those threats. Having said that, if I hear Sean Kelly or anyone else on Eurosport say "Sas-trah" ever again, I'll skip the extension cord beating...but I'll push them around, and they'll go straight into the bushes, and thus into one of my dog's tiny but aromatic turds. That's a promise.
My brother just made a great set of pins honoring some/most of the best riders in the sport. Pick up a set here.
Also, Rigoberto Uran has signed with Sky.