Focus on Stage 1 - Coffee
Distance: 79 km Ascent: 2,672 m Descent: 2,672 m Highest Altitude: 1,713 masl
The Cape Epic in South Africa is undoubtedly the biggest mountain biking event in the world. Established in 2004 and with 1,200 riders every year, it's a reference point for all other races and one that we aspire towards as we grow La Leyenda year on year here in Colombia. This year there were nine Leyenda representatives in the Epic, all of who either competed in Colombia last year or who will be coming for our second race in a few months time. We were following progress very closely in the middle of night and were delighted to see three time World Champion and five time Epic winner, Christoph Sauser and his partner Jaroslav Kulhavy, take two stage wins for Investec-Songo-Specialized, but unfortunately they narrowly missed out on victory to Olympic Champion Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann.
La Leyenda 2017 Route - 7 stages, 482km, 16,082m+
One of the most common racer questions we receive is regarding the Leyenda route and what The Everest of Mountain Biking actually entails. Well, with the exception of one stage, the 2017 Leyenda route is a brand new challenge that took us five months to consolidate over the course of various adventure filled trips, and it promises to be an absolute cracker! Starting in Manizales, you and your partner will roll down the ramp in the heart of the city centre and be cheered on your way by thousands of locals in the fast flowing prologue. You'll descend around a 1,000m over the next 43km taking you to the tropical heat of La Rochela, near the mighty Cauca river. Your home for the next two nights sees you surrounded by delicious citrus fruits and exotic birds fluttering in the trees above, and the next day's stage, 'Coffee', provides stunning views of the coffee plantations and orange orchards in the south-western part of the Caldas department, as well as a good introduction to the types of climbs that lie ahead.
2017 Professionals - Brit Hannah Barnes rides with Costa Rica's Milagro Mena
Race registrations are well underway but we still have several professional teams to announce for La Leyenda 2017. One of the most high profile of these is the extremely popular Specialized team, composed of British rider Hannah Barnes and established Costa Rican rider Milagro Mena.
Amateur Categories Sponsors - Celema and Herragro
Some people often assume that being a UCI race means La Leyenda is just for professional riders, when in fact around 80-90% of racers are amateur cyclists who just want to test themselves against the best, enjoy the race atmosphere and become a Finisher. We're therefore very happy to announce that the three amateur categories, Male 80, Male 100 and Open Mixed will be sponsored by two proud Caldas companies, Celema and Herragro, who'll be sponsoring the combined COP $21 million prize fund between them.
Focus on Stage 2 - Jungle
Distance: 103 km Ascent: 3,351 m Descent: 2,581 m Highest Altitude: 2,117 masl
Pros 2017 - Focus XC Team Brasil
With La Leyenda now having UCI S2 status it means registered riders can earn points to push them up the international rankings, which makes it much more attractive for the top professional teams to attend. The latest of these to confirm is Focus XC Team Brasil which is compromised of the 'one-two' of Brazilian mountain biking, two time National Cross-Country Marathon Champion, Halysson Ferreira, and 2016 Brazilian Runner Up in the same category, Alysson 'Tigrinho' Lucas. This year is the first that Halysson and Alysson will be racing together and the team's goal is to be in the top 3 Latin American teams in multi-stage races like La Leyenda, so they'll be keen to make their mark amongst the competitive male field, but they are well aware of the challenges they'll face.
Colombian TV Legend 'Pirry' to ride La Leyenda
'Pirry' is a name that just about every Colombian can relate to. Over the last two decades Pirry, or Guillermo Prieto, has been a journalist, writer and television presenter in the mainstream Colombian media, covering the biggest stories and building an enormous following in the process, which means he's already guaranteed to have thousands of fans cheering him on in his latest venture - riding La Leyenda del Dorado 2017! We're very excited to announce that Pirry will be participating in a team of two, like everyone else taking on the Leyenda challenge, but he'll be in the Mixed category, so make sure you read on to see how this will add an extra level of interest for the Colombian public...
Newsflash! - Catherine Williamson returns to La Leyenda with World Champion Esther Süss
The inaugural Leyenda Mixed Category winner Catherine Williamson from Great Britain is returning for La Leyenda 2017, but this time to try and take the Open Female title with World Champion, Esther Süss from Switzerland. The women's category promises to be one of the hottest races on the planet in 2017 with Sonya Looney, Amy McDougall and Celina Carpinteiro all providing strong competition, but Esther and Catherine will fancy their chances, each with their own very impressive palmarés and previous experience of racing together. Esther was 2010 World Marathon Champion, finished fifth in the London Olympic Games and has also triumphed twice in the Cape Epic, in both the Mixed and Women's categories, whilst Catherine was victorious in Cape Epic 2013 - meaning they both have vast knowledge of multi-stage racing.
Pros 2017 - Hans Becking
We're starting the new year with yet another top professional confirming for La Leyenda 2017. Hans Becking, from Holland, is at the peak of his career and rides for CST Sandd American Eagle, founded and managed by Dutch mountain bike legend and 1996 Olympic Gold medallist, Bert Brentjens. Hans brings a world class palmarès to La Leyenda, he is the current Netherlands National Cross Country Elite Champion, and six time national champion overall, as well as having won the challenging Brasil Ride twice, the Epic Israel in 2016 and he has also finished on the podium in the Cape Epic.
La Leyenda - Colombia's first UCI MTB Stage Race
We're incredibly excited to start 2017 with the amazing news that La Leyenda del Dorado 2017 has been given UCI status! The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) are the international body that oversee all forms of cycling around the world, from the 'blue riband' events such as the Tour de France, Olympic Games and World Championships, all the way to the up and coming disciplines of Cyclo-Cross, Cycle Ball and Para-Cycling, and so to have their backing is a great step forward for La Leyenda and Colombian cycling as a whole.
Pros 2017 - Celina Carpinteiro
With every passing week more and more top professionals from around the world are confirming their places in La Leyenda 2017, and the latest of them is Portugal's National Women's Champion, Celina Carpinteiro. Celina's an experienced cyclist across all disciplines of the sport, having represented her country in Marathon, Cross- Country and even on the road, but she didn't truly discover cycling until the age of 25. Her then boyfriend, Valerio, introduced her to cycling after she suffered a serious injury whilst playing football, meaning it was difficult for her to continue playing. Not one to look back, Celina threw herself head first into her new sport and has since raced around the world, winning Brasil Ride in 2010, the Titan Desert in 2011 and the Tour de Timor in 2015. This year's been very successful for her, taking victory again in The Tour de Timor, the Portugal MTB Tour in her home county and she just narrowly missed out on her second Brasil Ride title - all organised around being a biology teacher as well!
La Leyenda Giving Back - Riders Warriors, Líbano
A big part of La Leyenda planning involves thinking of ways to benefit the people and communities that the route passes through, without whom the race wouldn't be possible and whose towns go to huge efforts to accommodate us. La Leyenda 2016 passed through Líbano, Tolima before the ascent of the Nevado Del Ruíz volcano, and is a town that has certain social and economic challenges due to its isolated location and limited opportunities for the growing population. One of our key Leyenda team members, Oscar Gonzalez, is from the town and a pillar of the local mountain biking community. He formed Riders Warriors Mountain Bike Club in 2009 as part of his university thesis so that children and teenagers from Líbano could make the most of their free time, learning how to mountain bike!
Pros 2017 - Sonya Looney and Amy McDougall
The Leyenda 2017 start line up is already taking shape and it gives us great pleasure to announce the first and very strong women's pairing of Sonya Looney from the USA and South Africa's Amy McDougall.
A True Legend - Alejandro Escudero, CCRE
Alejandro Escudero from Medellín was one of the racers that took on the challenge of La Leyenda 2016, representing the Colombian cycling group CCRE with his teammate Jorge Hernandez, (Common Cyclists, Extraordinary Goals) and their team name certainly lives up to what Alejandro went through during the final few stages.
La Leyenda 2017 - Department of Caldas, Colombia
We're very excited to announce that the Leyenda 2017 will take place in the stunning department of Caldas, right in the centre of Colombia. Stages Volcano, Frontier and Legend all took place in Caldas in 2016 and the huge welcome in the colonial town of Salamina was one of the stand out memories of the inaugural race, so we know there's great potential to base ourselves exclusively in the department for the week. The race will start and finish in the mountain city of Manizales which can be easily accessed by its own airport, or that of Pereira, around an hour away, and Manizales already hosts regular international mountain bike events, such as the Red Bull Downhill, making it an ideal home for La Leyenda 2017.
A Special Thanks to Key Leyenda Partners: La Defensa Civil and The Colombian Police
Over 100 people formed part of La Leyenda staff that helped bring Colombia's first international multi-stage mountain bike race to fruition and without them the race simply wouldn't have been possible. However, we would like to add a special thank you to two organisations, The Colombian Defensa Civil (Mountain Rescue) and Police who guaranteed the safety and security of every single person for the entirety of the race.
Cole Oberman: Team Julbo
The list of Leyenda Pro-riders continues to grow with the announcement that the USA's Cole Oberman is confirmed to be racing La Leyenda del Dorado in less than a month's time. Cole's from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has been riding professionally since 2012. He currently forms part of Team RideBiker Alliance p/b Sho-Air and will ride La Leyenda as part of Team Julbo, who sponsor both Cole and La Leyenda.
Focus on Stage 6: El Dorado
Distance: 78 km Ascent: 2,360 m Descent: 2,359 m Highest Altitude: 2,383 masl
You’ve almost made it, one last push and you’ll become a Leyenda! The final stage begins with a fast 24km descent down through coffee plantations to Cementos El Cairo, where after crossing the Río Sabaletas you will be greeted by the stage's first Aid Station. You will then begin the 21.5km ascent up to the village of Montebello, which means pretty mountain, and the stage's final Aid Station. After flying through the streets of Montebello, being cheered on by the locals. you are now on the home straight to the finish line.
Strong: Official Sports Nutrition Sponsor of La Leyenda
An important sponsor for any cycling event is the sports nutrition provider and we're very proud to announce our alliance with Strong Sports Nutrition from Cali, Colombia. Strong have an impressive sporting pedigree with products for a variety of purposes, from powder based isotonic and recovery drinks to fruit energy shots and muscle building products, which all make up their bespoke range. All race aid points will feature Strong's Endurade sports nutrition drink which hydrates, as well as giving vital energy and minerals to make it form part of your wider race diet and we're sure it will make a pleasant change from other mass produced drinks you might be used to. Race aid points will also feature fresh Colombian fruit and mineral water provided by Celema to keep you going until the end of every stage. In addition, Strong's energy fruit gels will be on sale at the start of every stage and the recovery drink will be available for purchase when you reach the stage finish.
Leonardo Páez y Diego Arias: Colombian Champions
Leonardo Paez, Colombia's most successful mountain biker in history, was confirmed in our line up a few months ago, and now we have the honour of announcing his partner for La Leyenda del Dorado 2016. Fellow Colombian professional, Diego Arias, will ride in partnership with Leonardo as they aim to be the inaugural winners of the first international multi-stage mountain bike race in their home country.
Focus on Stage 2: Jungle
Distance: 84 km Ascent: 3,162 m Descent: 2,039 m Highest Altitude: 1,949 masl
Stage 2 begins in the tropical town of Mariquita, famed for its production of many exotic fruits and in particular the mangostino, sometimes referred to as the fruit of the kings, or the food of the Gods. Mangostinos are actually one of the rarest and most expensive fruits in the world as they can only be produced in a few places and are highly recommended! The start line is next to the beautiful 16th century chapel Santuario Diocesano del Milagroso, Señor de la Ermita, after which you will race through the town's cobbled streets, before starting the 28 km climb through Guanabana plantations to the stage's first Aid Station in the town of Palocabildo.
Julbo: Official Sunglasses Sponsor of La Leyenda
Sunglasses are an important part of any cyclist's attire. The functionality of blocking out the sun's rays together with protecting your eyes from dirt and dust, combined with attractive designs, means your 'shades' or 'sunnies' are the piece of the kit you least want to forget on a long ride. We're therefore delighted to announce that established French company, Julbo, will now be supporting La Leyenda del Dorado as our Official Sunglasses Sponsor.
Focus on the Prologue: Guaduas to Guaduas
Distance: 25 km Ascent: 1,061 m Descent: 1,061 m Highest Altitude: 1,544 masl
The Prologue will start atop the steps of the Catedral San Miguel Arcangel, affording racers a fantastic view of the 16th century Plaza below and its centrepiece, a statue of Policarpa Salavarrieta, both of which feature on the Colombian $10,000 peso bank note. Policarpa, or “La Pola” as she is more affectionately known, was a heroine around the time of Colombian Independence, spying for the revolutionary forces against Spanish Royalists during the 18th century Spanish Reconquista, before she was captured and ultimately executed for high treason.
WeSura: Official Insurance Sponsor of La Leyenda
A major logistical challenge in hosting any mass participation sporting event is ensuring the safety of competitors from the various legal and insurance standpoints. Consequently, we're very proud to announce our new sponsor, WeSura, as our Official Insurance Partner. WeSura are a subsidiary of Suramerica, one of Colombia's largest health and insurance providers, and will provide the necessary legal and insurance support for La Leyenda, so you can be assured that you're in good hands!
Talent at La Leyenda: Leonardo Páez
Competition in the inaugural Leyenda continues to heat up with Leonardo Paez, unquestionably the most successful professional Colombian mountain biker ever, now signed up to try and win Colombia's first multi- stage MTB race. Leo hails from Cienega in Boyaca, a region famed for its rich cycling history which has proudly produced many great champions across all cycling disciplines, including 2014 Giro D'Italia winner, Nairo Quintana. In 2002 at the, age of 19, Leonardo began competing in the sub 23 category where he won the National Championships, and a year later the Pan American Championships. His potential was quickly spotted by European teams and in 2005 he moved to Italy to further his career as a full professional cyclist.
Introducing La Leyenda's Official Race Jersey and Racewear Partner Safetti
At La Leyenda del Dorado we always aim to keep it Colombian and work with the finest, most innovative and progressive companies we can find, so we are thrilled to welcome SAFETTI on board as our Official Race Wear Partners. Based in Medellin, Safetti has become synonymous with innovation and good design and are widely recognized for their ethical stance and social responsibility.
Songo, Sipho and Sauser at La Leyenda
One of the highlights of organising the inaugural Leyenda del Dorado has been the incredibly positive reception we've had from experts around the cycling world, none more so than ex-UCI World Champion, Christoph Sauser. Ever since Christoph has been confirmed to ride in Colombia we've both been looking for a way to link his very own charity, songo.info and La Leyenda together. Consequently, when Christoph suggested bringing one of the shining stars of his South African based foundation to ride in Colombia, we jumped at the idea!
Focus on Stage Four: Frontier
Distance: 90 km Ascent: 2,264 m Descent: 2,635 m Highest Altitude: 3,647 masl
After a short 40 minute transfer straight from your hotel you will arrive at Cementos Caldas, the start of Stage 4 - an eerie abandoned cement factory in the middle of nowhere. After navigating the ruins you will enter the first section of the stage, a relatively calm 17 km undulating gravel road, passing through remote hillside farmland and forests to the base of today's major ascent, the inappropriately named La Culebrita (Little Snake), with a 1,300 m climb up to a maximum elevation of 3,642masl. You will pass through several climatic zones, noticing the change in fauna and flora, along the way up to sub-paramo, an otherworldly ecosystem dominated by unusual shrubs and rock formations.
Garmin to Support La Leyenda del Dorado
Over the last few years the evolution of electronic devices designed to enrich cyclists' rides and training sessions has been extraordinary and Garmin is very much the company that has been at the centre of all this. We are very pleased to be able to announce that Garmin is joining La Leyenda del Dorado in its special, inaugural edition. For participants this will mean the chance to win and enjoy some of the latest Garmin devices.
Making the Most out of Racing in Pairs
Racing in teams of 2 riders adds an extra dimension to an endurance MTB event and can really heighten the overall experience for participants. After all, a shared experience is often that bit richer and rewarding, and lends to special memories. Rather than riding at the limit, in your own intense bubble, in pairs racing you work with your team mate towards one common goal, spurring each other on and taking on the highs and the lows of the race together.
Focus on Stage One: Desert
Distance: 98 km
Ascent: 1,702 m
Descent: 2,457 m
Highest Altitude: 1,416 masl
Upon leaving the colonial plaza in Guaduas, you will begin a steady ascent to the day's first peak with a short climb of just over 300 m. This will warm you up nicely for the second ascent, the aptly named Alto de la Mona (cute hill), a modest 500m climb, however with an average gradient of just under 10 %, meaning your climbing abilities will be put through their paces. At the top you will be rewarded not only with the day's first aid station, but also with stunning views across the majestic Magdalena Valley. On a clear day you will be able to see the mighty snow capped Ruíz Volcano peeking in the distance which will be tackled in the coming stages.
Celema: La Leyenda's Official Water Partner
Focus on Stage 5: Legend
Distance: 121 km Ascent: 3,784 m Descent: 3,360 m Highest Altitude: 2,406 masl
Stage 5, Legend, is the penultimate and biggest stage in terms of both distance and ascent with an impressive 121 km and a monumental 3,784 m of climbing. We get under way with a controlled start in the historic plaza of Salamina, one of the original pioneer towns in this area. After navigating the narrow colonial streets and descending down to the river below, the real racing begins as the pace vehicles peal off to reveal steep coffee plantations and waterfalls.
Shimano: La Leyenda's Official Tech Zone Partner
Focus on Stage 3: Volcano
Distance: 93 km Ascent: 2,928 m Descent: 2,167 m Highest Altitude: 4,145 masl
The third and highest stage of La Leyenda begins in Líbano at an altitude of 1,600 m providing a cool, temperate climate, ideal for the numerous coffee plantations in the area. After leaving the main plaza you will begin the arduous 45 km ascent up the Volcán Nevado del Ruiz via a partially paved road to Murillo, winding its way through potato, tree tomato and grazing fields. Upon your arrival in Murillo at 2,950 m you will notice a cooler climate and thinner air, but also be greeted by brightly painted wooden houses.
Avianca is Now La Leyenda's Official Airline
La Leyenda del Dorado is delighted to announce its latest partnership for Colombia's inaugural multi-stage mountain bike race in 2016. Avianca, the world's second oldest airline and Colombia's national flag carrier will be the official airline of 'La Leyenda' and will assist with valuable promotional activities, as well as offering attractive discounted fares to racers, both from Colombia and overseas.
Talent at La Leyenda: Miguel Londoño
Getting our route right for La Leyenda del Dorado has been no small task over the last year or so and key to that has been the expert help of Miguel Londoño, our professional cyclist on La Leyenda team. Miguel's part of a new breed of exciting Colombian mountain bikers and also an industrial engineering student at the Universidad Autonoma in Manizales. He was introduced to cycling by his dad, José, at a young age and as a child won many national youth competitions, helping him to gradually set his goals higher and higher. Miguel became Latin American Champion in Ecuador in 2008 and Panamerican Champion in Chile in 2009, amongst winning many other prizes, on his way to finishing 6th in the UCI World Youth Cup in the Czech Republic in 2011.
Specialized: La Leyendas Official Bike Sponsor
Specialized were the first official sponsor of La Leyenda del Dorado and have been a big part of bringing Colombia's first multi stage mountain bike race to fruition. Their refurbished Concept Store in Manizales was a fitting location for our launch event in September and they will provide invaluable logistical and technical support to La Leyenda.