Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Disappearing by going home

Nairo Quintana on a training ride this past weekend in Boyaca (Photo: El Tiempo)

The sport and its fans have more theories about wrongdoing than an Oliver Stone movie, and rightfully so. Always looking ahead, in order to guess who might be doing what and how, theories flow effortlessly. At European races, I've heard many such theories, often from people who know just enough about the sport to make you think about their theories for a second or two. Due to my nationality, the one that often gets brought up is that of Colombian riders "disappearing" to their home towns during the season, to do god-knows-what once they are "hidding" there. This has been brought up to me enough times, that I made note of last year, and it would appear as though Matt Rendell has heard this also.

To be honest, I couldn't really figure out why these comments and questions about riders going home bothered me so much, until I saw Matt's comment (above). Because while I see the point that fans are trying to make, I fail to see Colombia as a far away place that you "disappear to". But understanding that point of view helps further explain the notion of Colombian riders coming "out of nowhere". In either scenario, Colombia is a place that you either disappear to, or the mythical land on nowhere.

While I don't necessarily take issue with the accusations or questions posed, I instead take interest in the huge cultural chasm they reveal, and the fact that its significance is not unlike that of the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. But bringing up that story, of course, can lead one down the path of believing that we might all be blind. And I'm open to that, though I honestly believe that I'm not blinded by patriotic hubris, and am well aware of what is going on in Colombia. So at the risk of repeating myself here, it's the difference of how we each see a single place that interests me. Home and family, or a dark hiding place, that is nowhere. When it comes to countries like Colombia, this difference of opinion is simply part of our ongoing narrative, and (for better or worse) helps shape how we are viewed by others, and how we sometimes view ourselves.

GoPro video of Nairo Quintana on a training ride this past weekend


Carlos Betancur (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

Having heard that Carlos Betancur was going to leave Ag2r, I tried in vain to speak to him last week. Interestingly, several riders who know and train with him told me they didn't have his phone number. "Oh god no, I don't have his number, no one does. He doesn't give it to anyone."

I suddenly remembered talking to Betancur several times at the Giro last year, as well as earlier at Amstel Gold, and never really getting him to agree to do an interview.

Interested in building up the myth of Quintana as a human riddle, the press has largely missed a guy who does in fact have some of those qualities (for whatever reason, and to which he has every right to).

And yes, at is turns out, he is in fact looking for a new team.



  1. The Anglo notion that if they haven't heard of it or their mom doesn't wanna go there in vacation it must be scary and remote and people that go there are crazy wild men and daredevils. Fucking ignorant. Guess what, there's fucking electricity in fucking Colombia, assholes. Also, TV, phones and internet. WTF are you talking about 'disappearing'? I'm fucking sorry we don't all live in fucking London, Sevilla or fucking Boulder. Pisses me off.

  2. If by "disappearing" you mean being constantly followed and tracked by fans and media... then yes.

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