Santiago Buitrago, trained at the Esteban Chaves Foundation, debuts as a professional at age 20 with the McLaren Bahrain.

When Santiago Buitrago (Bogot, 1999) was given the equipment of the Bahrain McLaren in the team's training camp in Hvar (Croatia) last December, he felt an overwhelming sensation. A 'high'. He realized where he had gone: from the most modest amateur team in Italy to one of the most technological in the world. A kind of huge jewelry box hides the brightly colored clothes that premiere on January 19 at the Australian Tour Down Under. “So many uniforms that I couldn't even count. They used to give me four for the whole year. “In Australia, where your season starts today, you'll find out more about what's going on in the first division of cycling, the WorldTour circuit. It's the second youngest runner in the cast, just surpassed by the local Tyler Lindorff, enrolled in an Australian group full of Sub23.

There were doubts in the Bahrain McLaren. At first, his coaches thought of him for the debut at Oceana, but they momentarily recalled: it was a baptism too hard for a boy they barely know. They told him it would be better to premiere on the Vuelta a la Valencian Community. Santiago Buitrago was not in a position to demand anything, any career is worth it, although he wanted to enter into competition when before and in a WorldTour race. His attitude and the situation of the rest of the workforce relocated him on the trip to Adelaide. “I have seen the Down Down Tour quite a bit on television and I liked the idea of ​​running it“he tells us. He got his way.

Santiago Buitrago hered his older sister's bike at age six and began pedaling in his neighborhood of Bogot, where he had a closed road to the traffic to, playing, imagine “he was a climber or a packer.” The little Bogota then started an adventure that these days, 14 years later, reaches the biggest competition in the world with the shirt of one of the great teams.

“Train me and take care of me”

At about 11 years I was able to date my dad to give us a little bit of an hour or an hour and a half on Saturdays and Sundays, “tells the journalist the 20-year-old runner, who remembers that at that time he took part in his first competition” of cyclomontaism, in a town called Ventaquemada without a uniform or anything. “I stayed sixth.” And from that moment, he wanted to train me and take care of me to be a cyclist, as I told my dad. “With the money from the” prize “he bought a uniform and a pair of shoes with those who I already felt like a cyclist of the future.

The Esteban Chaves Foundation recruited him only five years ago, at 15 in Buitrago. The youth was making a name for himself in local cycling. “The presence of Esteban Chaves motivated us a lot. He trained with us when he was in Colombia and was pending. He told us his experiences in Europe and taught us. It was sper motivating, we helped a lot“, recognizes the Colombian neoprofessional.

Already in sub 23, Santiago Buitrago went to the subsidiary of Manzana Postobn, AV Villas, the perfect showcase. And dursimo, as he reminds us. “In Colombia there are no specific races, so I went from competing with children to doing it with the elites, which is very hard. You have to train much more. That year 2018 my most beautiful experience was to be in the Tour of Colombia and to finish it after 15 difficult days. ”


“And from there, to Europe,” he smiles. In 2019, still amateur in Team Cinelli, by the hand of his agent, Paolo Alberati, the same one who took Egan Bernal to Androni Giocattoli in 2016. I looked for a family in Rapallo, near Gnova, which is where he settled and continue until European spring comes his parents. “Between July and August it came to me that Bahrain was interested in signing me. My name is Paolo and when everything was concretized I was super excited. It was what I wanted, but I didn't imagine it would happen so quickly, “says Buitrago.

His mother, a teacher in the nursery school, who suffered so much from the boy's falls, and his father, a carpenter who had inoculated the bug of cycling, “were super proud of him.”

He is aware that he must take the pulse of this new dimension of cycling. He considers himself a climber and did not go wrong in the time trial specialty, but he has learned: “You know that in Colombia you can win the chronos, but you arrive in Europe and it's all different. I like the mountain, the longer the better and with several ports the same day. With these runners of the Bahrain McLaren I will learn great things. ” He dreams of reaching the height of the winner of the Tour de France, Egan Bernal, “and of the Colombians who succeed in the WorldTour, but the road is difficult and you have to prepare very well.”

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