Altitude is star of Tour Colombia 2020 route

South America's fast-growing stage race will trace the home regions of Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal with a route ending at nearly 11,000 feet

Photo: Getty Images

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Riders better bring their oxygen masks to next year’s Tour Colombia 2020.

Altitude is on the menu in what’s fast becoming South America’s premier stage race, with 2020’s event ending with an exclamation point. The six-stage, 885km race never dips below 2,500m (8,250ft) and concludes with the final queen stage on the emblematic climb above Bogotá on the Alto El Verjón at 3,266m (10,777ft).

Officials revealed course details for the race (February 11-16) that ventures into some of Colombia’s highest terrain in the “cundiboyacense” central plateau, home to some of the nation’s biggest cycling stars.

The route will travel through the home districts of recent Tour de France winner Egan Bernal in Zipaquirá as well as national hero Nairo Quintana in Tunja.

For its first two editions, the race largely hung to lower elevation terrain, at least by Colombian standards. This year, organizers bring the race into the high-altitude central “altiplano” that will be a delight for fans but perhaps misery for racers not accustomed to performing at such demanding heights.

The race debuted in 2018 and quickly drew some of Europe’s top teams and stars, with four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and Sky (now Ineos) racing in 2019.

With such extreme elevation, it will be interesting to see if some of Europe’s top GC stars steer clear for this edition. The GC battle is typically a shootout between the top Colombians, but even racing at such altitude can produce too much stress on the body too early in the season.

Perhaps considering this, organizers have not made the course over-demanding. Barring the mountain-top finale in the final stage, the remainder of the route is held over relatively mild, undulating terrain.

Movistar has already confirmed that 2018 world champion Alejandro Valverde will be starting.

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