The withdrawal of Miguel Ángel López in the fourth stage of last Giro d'Italia deprived Colombia of an important performance, as the cyclists that 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.
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Santiago Buitrago was running his second major competition after the Vuelta a España in 2021 and was conditioned to perform the work of a domestique to help his boss, Mikel Landa, win the competition. Although he submitted to this regimen, the 22-year-old runner from Bogota had the strength and the head to not only fulfill his role, but also to go for the partial victory.
Buitrago finished second in the stage that ended in Cogne. That day the video of the cyclist crying for having lost the fraction went viral, but he had 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 a three-week competition. Buitrago told intimacies of the Giro, recounted how he forced the march, and spoke of the options he has to be the leader of the Bahrain structure.Buitrago, in an interview
How do you cold analyze what happened in the Giro?
Phew. I think about it with a cool head and having achieved that stage, having been close to winning another and finishing 12th overall, having greatly influenced Mikel Landa's podium is satisfying. That for me is great with a view to the rest of the season.
Is it true that you 'asked permission' to go through the stage?
In the team there were certain roles and objectives, one was to win the title with Landa. We were under the orders of the team and if they had told me to wait, then I had to.
That didn't happen…
When I was on the run they never stopped me and gave me the opportunity to go for the win. On the bus there was talk of getting into the breakout, but we were clear that the main thing was to wait for Landa.
Why the tears in the stage you lost?
I felt a bit frustrated, not because something bad had happened to me, but because of the fact that I did my best and lost because the body didn't give me gave more, it was anger with myself.
How was the stage planned?
We knew that the first port would be essential, being on the run was ideal. It was not a stage that I had in mind, it was not marked, one of us must have been ahead, because the idea was to help Landa, who had to attack in the penultimate prize, it was the plan, that's why I was ahead, to help him.
And what happened?
On the last climb I tried to catch up with the one who was fleeing. We played a little chess of moving the pieces. I got to him, I was clear that I had to get to him before crowning to be calm at the end and not force an arrival with him at the packing. I saw it, I had it close, I got to it and recovered a little, I spent a lot before reaching it and I had to get rid of it so it wouldn't attack me in the end and that's what I did.
How was the celebration?
That day people congratulated me, in the team we were very happy, we opened champagne in the hotel, it was everyone's triumph and it was a very special night.
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What do you Landa said?
What he told me is super-special. It is very emotional to hear those words from the team, people who have achieved very important things in their career and that filled me. It is like acknowledging that the work is done well. I was filled with congratulations.
Does that victory give you the option of climbing the team?
Of course. It gives me confidence in the face of what is to come. It makes me want to continue working, to pay more attention to details in order to improve.
Could we soon have a Colombian as leader of Bahrain?
Everything is a process and that is what they want in the team, to bring young cyclists and look for the future.
It is a veteran team and you would have options to lead it soon…
The years go by and with me there are cyclists who must fight. You have to follow their legacy, learn. I feel proud to see myself there and at some point have the lead. There is no fear with that, but you have to go calmly.
What is missing for that?
Maybe repeat what I have done, because that would help me consolidate , to be a runner 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 one, but repeating what I've done is the key.
What are your plans for the rest of 2022?
I don't have a defined calendar. Everything will depend on what is done on the Tour.
Editor of EL TIEMPO
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