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"I think I will be the leader in Volta a Catalunya and Paris-Nice to reach a good level for the Tour."

Photo: BMC Racing Team (Continuum Sports, LLC)


12.12.2014 @ 17:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Darwin Atapuma got his first season at WorldTour level destroyed by a nasty crash in the Tour de France. Having recovered from a broken femur, the Colombian hopes to shine in week-long stage races as BMC captain and return to the Tour to support Tejay van Garderen.


Darwin Atapuma was one of the leaders of Team Colombia in 2013 and so it was no surprise that he made the jump to the WorldTour when the BMC team signed the talented climber.


The relationship between the parties began in the best way as he finished 9th in the Tour de San Luis (after having twice finished in the top 5 in mountain stages) and achieved other notable results with 18th in the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphiné.


He arrived at the Tour de France with the job to support leader Tejay van Garderen but he was forced to leave the race on stage 7 when a crash left him with a broken femur and a long recovery.


Now Atapuma is fully focused on 2015 and everything seems to be on track for a good perofrmance.


"The recovery is very good," he tells Ciclismo Internacional. "The fracture was the worst injury in my career and I've taken a lot of responsibility to recover as soon as possible. So hopefully I can start to race in February."


"I want to start warly but not in San Luis because BMC will not go there. If all goes well, I will make my comeback at the Dubai Tour," he adds. However, he does not close the door for a return a bit earlier. "Yes, the dates for the national championships were changed. I think it will be an event in which all or or at least 90% of the riders from Europe will be riding against the national teams. I do not know if I will be there but I would like to win the road race to wear the tricolour jersey for my team."


Despite his terrible accident, Atapuma draws a positive balance of 2014. "The balance of this year was very good for me although it was a year of adaptation and the first in a WorldTour team," he says. "I did not have much luck with my crash. I withdrew from the Tour de France and missed the rest of the season where I had hoped to do a lot of good things. The balance is very positive because of the things I learned and because of my debut in the Tour.


"El Puma" says that he learned a lot from his experienced teammates. "I learned a lot from great champions like Cadel Evans, Thor Hushovd, Tejay van Garderen, Philippe Gilbert and Samuel Sanchez. Before I could only watch them on TV and now I have the ability to ride with them and many other champions," he says.


Due to his recovery, little is known about Atapuma's race schedule but with his memory from this year's work for van Garderen, he wants to return to the Tour. "I still don't know much about my schedule. I hope to first make a good recovery and return to work for Tejay which is very gratifying as he is a very young and very good person and rider. Even though I have not raced much with him, he has taught me many things."


And he hs the desire to return to La Grande Boucle after his first participation where he got a maiden experience on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles. "The pave was a very good experience, something that I had never tried before. If I will return to the Tour next year, I have the knowledge from this year and will try to do my best. It is difficult and luck is an important factor. I look forward to 2015."


Atapuma is now 27 years old and is reaching his physical maturity. He is expected to have greate responsibilities in a key season that will be the final of his current contract with BMC.


"I have had and will have the opportunity to be a leader in several races. The team has given me confidence and I hope to win to thank them," he says and reveals some of his goals. "I think I will be the leader in Volta a Catalunya and Paris-Nice to reach a good level for the Tour."


He is not overly concerned about his future. "I just think about recovering from my fracture and giving 100% to recover what was lost."


The former Colombia rider is proud to be part of BMC, one of the biggest teams in the world. "Yes, it is one of the leading teams. Everything is super professional: riders, the support group and the directors, without forgetting the bikes and the equipment.


Atapuma wants to make the most of his opportunities. "I regard myself as a good climber. The time trial is my biggest challenge and I train with the aim of improving that aspect to keep up with the best riders."



One challenge for Colombian riders is their long absence from their home country which seems to have had a negative impact on Carlos Betancur. "Yes, it is diffiuclt to be away from home for so long," Atapuma says. "Europe is very different and that makes me miss my family and food. Training and the race schedule have a huge influence but ultimately it is worth the effort because the cycling career does not last forever and you cannot waste the chance to be in a good team. Your need to make the most of it."


With Samuel Sanchez and Cadel Evans leaving the team, Atapuma may get more space and responsibilities in 2015. Having recovered from his injuries, he will finally try to show what he is capable of in the WorldTour.



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