|La Linea climb|
Even though the parcours has 5 mountain-top finishes, it's not as tough as it has been in the last few years. The usual 14 stages have been replaced by 11, plus the prologue. The race will visit most of the major Colombian cities (Ibague, Armenia, Cali, Popayan, Manizales and Medellin) but it will not visit the capital, Bogota.
Stage 4 (Ibague to Aremnia - 130.2kms) looks to be the toughest on paper with the brutal HC climb to Alto La Linea. It's almost 50kms long and tops of at 3242meters. With the climb 60kms from the finish, La Linea may not be as decisive as in previous years, but it will not be an easy one.
Stage 9 (Dosquebradas to Manizales - 119.5kms) will probably be the most decisive one. The guys who survive the climb up to Manizales will be the ones fighting for the overall victory in the final mountain TT.
|2012 Vuelta a Colombia Leader's jersey presented ahead of the prologue in Puerto Gaitan.|
200 riders in 23 teams will take the start in Puerto Gaitan. The five foreign teams invited are Somos Carchi (Ecuador), UPV-Bancaja (Spain), Utensilnord-Named (Italy), San Luis Somos Todos (Argentina) and Pio Rico (Bolivia).
Felix Cardenas (GW-Shimano): The defending champion has won stages in the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France (riding for Kelme), but at 38 years-old we will have to see if he can out-wit and out-ride the younger guys.
Fredy Montaña (Movistar Continental): Montaña is probably the best time trialist of the favorites and will probably plan his race around the final TT. He finished 3rd overall last year and won the final TT.
Giovanni Baez (EPM-Une): Even though he won the Vuelta Colombia in 2008, he still has something to prove. He finished second in the final TT in 2011, but wasn't enough to beat Cardenas for the overall. Baez lost the Vuelta by a mere 2 seconds.
Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Coldeportes): Colombia-Coldeportes may be considered a "foreign" team now that they are managed by an Italian and are headquartered in Europe. The 2008 U23 World Champion didn't participate last year, but he did win 2 stages in 2010 and has since had very good showings in Italy, Spain and California.
There hasn't been an announcement of an international on-line TV feed, but if there will be one, I'm sure the official Colombian Federation Twitter will be the first to announce it: @fedeciclismocol
The organizers have announced the official Twitter hashtag will be #VCol, but #VColombia seems more prevelent with the media.
Stage profiles by Alimetrias de Colombia
Official start list
Photos of Team Presentation