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Vuelta de la Juventud 2017!

Tomorrow the 50th anniversary of Vuelta Juventud kicks off with a prologue in Medellin! This year's route is truly challenging and tailor-made for the elite U23 climbers. (Felix Cardenas - DT of GW Shimano called it the hardest route in the last 10 years!) - we have summit finishes on Plaza de Torros in Manizales, Alto Letras and Alto de Palermo and a very, very demanding final stage circuit in Tunja!

This years route!

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Major contenders!

Orgullo Antioqueño - Brayan Hernandez won the Vuelta Porvenir in 2014 but the last 12 months has been injury plagued for him and his condition is unsure, to say the least. In top-form he should be among the best but I doubt very much it will be the case (happy to be proven wrong though)...

Boyaca - Super squad as always! U23 Colombian RR champion Robinson Lopez looks in super form and was very active in Fusagasuga and can climb and TT with the best of them. Adrian Bustamante is another super talent with an amazing future ahead of him could defiantly be a card to play as well... Franklin Buitrago is a very, very good climber also- a close friend and training partner of Bustamante -... Cristian Camilo Cubides is always solid and also a good climber who should provide good support.

GW Shimano - They have never won Vuelta Juventud as a team before, but they have been incredibly strong in all races this year!! Wbeimar Gaviria (cousin of Fernando) was 4th on GC last year and also won two stages. This year he has prepared well but crashed hard in Vuelta Valle, so I am a little unsure about his form, but a stunning prospect he is! Wilson Cardona is an amazing climber who can be a GC threat as well... The team also consistent of Yeison Reyes (little brother of Aldemar Reyes) who is a good climber and Carlos Gutierrez who was 13th on GC last year!!! Last but not least the team also have Alejandro Osorio from 1998 who won a stage and finished 4th in last year's Vuelta Provenir and is little brother of Frank Yair Osorio!...

Bakano - Duvan Atapuma can color the race and maybe win a stage along the way - like his uncle (Darwin) he is a good climber and still very young from 1997... Luis Felipe Mora is another name who is regular and can climb well, a solid GC place for him and Duvan is my guess!

Medellin Exito Bavaria - Insane squad this year as well. probably the deepest all-round. Julian Cardona and Javier Montoya are two of the best Colombian youngsters two talents who can climb and TT excellently. Mateo Gracia joins the squad for this race as well, he was 4th last year and is a very underrated rider in my opinion. He only started on the road at age 17 as a second year junior and trained for 4 months and came 5th in Vuelta Porvenir!!!... Robinson Ortega (Is the cousin of Aldemar and Yeison Reyes) a pure climber who thrives on the hardest mountains like his cousins... Johnatan Cañaveral showed in Spain he is a talented bike rider as well (He went toe-to-toe with Carapaz several times, lost but not by much)...

Italian national team - I am very interested in seeing how they go against the Colombians. Matteo Fabbro is a strong, strong climber we know that but how he measure against the lightweight Colombians. In Tour de l'Avenir he looked the part of a new scalatore!!! Riccardo Lucca was a great climber as a junior (I am unsure of how he handles the transition to U23) but on paper an interesting name at least ... Luca Covili can climb as well, curious to see how he goes here as well!

Coldeportes Claro Cristian Muñoz was runner-up in Vuelta Juventud last year and together with German Chaves a good duo again this year, both of them have the potential to fight against the best!

EPM - Sebastian Castaño and Daniel Muñoz have both been in great form recently... Both of them can climb and TT and I expect them to be in the fight for the overall GC... Harold Tejada is also a good talent, a strong junior who slowly but secure is getting better and better in the U23 ranks!!! Elkin Castaño is a strong climber who showed his worth here last year and with this year route in mind, he can be a valuable card to play as well....
 
50 years of History!!

http://www.revistamundociclistico.com/ruta/23015-especial-1-vuelta-de-la-juventud-una-historia-de-50-anos.html

Some past winners:
Recognize anyone? :)
1993: Bandera de Colombia Jairo de Jesús Hernández
1994: Bandera de Colombia Freddy Moncada
1995: Bandera de Colombia Iván Parra
1996: Bandera de Colombia Víctor Hugo Peña
1997: Bandera de Colombia Iván Parra
1998: Bandera de Colombia Marlon Pérez
1999: Bandera de Colombia Mauricio Ardila
2000: Bandera de Colombia Mauricio Ardila
2001: Bandera de Colombia Luis Felipe Laverde
2002: Bandera de Colombia Alejandro Ramírez
2003: Bandera de Colombia Juan Carlos López
2004: Bandera de Colombia Mauricio Soler
2005: Bandera de Colombia Fabio Duarte
2006: Bandera de Colombia Fabio Duarte
2007: Bandera de Colombia Óscar Sánchez
2008: Bandera de Colombia Sergio Henao
2009: Bandera de Colombia Carlos Betancur
2010: Bandera de Colombia Javier Gómez
2011: Bandera de Colombia Daniel Jaramillo
2012: Bandera de Colombia Ronald Gómez
2013: Bandera de Colombia César Villegas
2014: Bandera de Colombia Miguel Ángel López
2015: Bandera de Ecuador Richard Carapaz
2016: Bandera de Colombia Diego Fernando Cano
 
Re: Re:

From what I've understood, there isn't a next Quintana, Chaves or Superman Lopez in this bunch, not in the top 10 at least. This gets confirmed when you look at their age, as most of them are already 22 or close to being so, except for Largo and Tejada (both 20), but neither have had impressive results in the past.

The one whom I thought was somewhat impressive was Adrian Bustamante, who is only 18 years old. He has the reputation of being a good talent, as he finished 2nd in Futuro in 2014, and 3rd and 2nd in Porvenir in 2015 and 2016. He was only 25th in the GC, but was in contention to win a stage twice.

Matxin, scout for QuickStep, was a regular guest for QuickStep. I very much doubt he'll bring many names to the attention of Lefevere. I think we'll have to wait for Camilo Castro or Yeison Casallas.
 
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The young Italian climbing prospect Matteo Fabbro (the guy who was able to stay with Hamilton on the long climb in the Giro del Belvedere) was also racing, but he crashed out of the race. He did finis 9th on the Alto de Letras stage, for a young European rider who has never raced in Colombia before that's pretty good, especially if you consider the fact the the raced started on the 23rd of April and he was racing the Palio del Recioto on th 18th 8the day after Belvedere, so he had only a few days to get used to the altitude and the jetlag.