Focus on Stage 1 - Coffee
Distance: 79 km Ascent: 2,672 m Descent: 2,672 m Highest Altitude: 1,713 masl
You'll have arrived from Manizales during the Prologue to La Rochela and have witnessed the temperature change from mild in the city, to tropical down near the Cauca river. Stage One is the first proper stage of La Leyenda 2017 and is a circuit day around the south western part of the Caldas department. Starting at an altitude of about 1,000m from inside the Race Village, the first kilometres are ascending a fairly steep track that passes numerous coffee plantations, hence the stage name. A short descent and climb takes you to the orange orchards of Hacienda Santa Elena and the start of the second major climb of the day up to Hacienda Moravito. The climb will be made slightly more bearable with stunning views of Lake Dan Francosco, or La Esmerelda, surrounded by the rural tropical landscapes, filled with coffee plants and quaint 'fincas' (Colombian country houses). A flat section follows the path of a canal, where the day's second aid station is located, before the main climb of the day starts.
Ascending steeply for almost 600m over 10km to Hacienda La Miranda in the heat will certainly test you as you climb to almost 1,800m, passing even more coffee plantations on the way, and be a sample of climbs to come over the next few stages. You'll be pleased to know a 25km descent follows, taking you past the village of El Trebol with its residents lining the streets to cheer you on, after which you emerge at the lake you saw earlier in the stage. It's at this point the route arrives back at Hacienda Santa Elena, so you'll cover the same tracks back to La Rochela with a descent to the Campoalegre river, one more 500m climb, and another short descent for your second night in the relaxing holiday resort of La Rochela, with parrots in the trees and iguanas walking around the site. The cut off time for amateur cyclists is 9 hours so there should be time for all racers to make the most of the numerous pools in the pleasant afternoon sun, so make sure you bring your swimwear!
To be continued ...