PROLOGUESunday 29th July 2018
Stage cut off time: 6 hours
La Leyenda 2018, Colombia's premier mountain bike stage race, will once again start in the heart of Manizales in La Plaza de Bolívar on 29th July, after the previous day's registration. The 49km PROLOGUE heads west again and gives you a taste of what to come over the next week, initially taking you down La Zeta, a steep, hair pinned dirt road lined with coffee plantations either side, and an average gradient of 22%, but with some sections as high as 35% to test your brakes around the corners. After a short ascent you'll then move onto Bisoño, a 3km single-track through steep coffee fields, testing your technical skills, and then cross the antique wooden Arabe suspension bridge over the Guacaica River. A short climb to Libano follows and then there's just a 20km descent through orange, mandarin and macadamia farms to the tropical heat and palm trees at the Confa La Rochela recreational centre, where the race village is centred for the next 2 nights.
Stage 1: COFFEEMonday 30th July 2018
Stage cut off time: 9 hours
Stage One, is a circuit day that takes you round the south western part of the Caldas department. After starting in the race village there's a steep climb to get the legs and heart pumping, followed by Campoalegre, a technical, steep rocky track down to the river. The route then takes you through a maze of coffee farms, citrus plantations and bamboo forests with fast, sweeping sections along the sides of lakes and canals punctuated by short, steep climbs through the farms. The main climb is up to Hacienda La Miranda at just over 1,700m, passing the village of El Trebol on the way, and there's a bird's eye view of the Esmerelda reservoir and Rio Cauca on the descent. The 76km stage finishes with a final short climb and descent through more verdant green coffee bushes to a well earned rest and dip in the numerous pools at La Rochela.
Stage 2: RIVERTuesday 1st August 2018
Stage cut off time: 11 hours
Stage Two, is completely new to La Leyenda, starting with a beautiful section that meanders along the side of the mighty Cauca river with quaint villages, numerous streams and mini bridges on the way, bringing you to the town of Irra to cross the Cauca, and then a super fast 16km singletrack to La Felisa. Here a 1,200m ascent awaits, recently christened 'The Wall II' due to its steep ramps and added temperature challenge. You'll leave the tropical river valley behind and climb to the cooler surrounds of coffee plantations higher up, with stunning views of the Central Andean mountain range everywhere you look, easing the strain slightly on those legs. The town of La Merced lies at the top the climb and there'll undoubtedly be thousands of people lining the streets as you pass through the main square and its aid station, you'll feel like you're in the Tour de France peloton heading up Alp D'Huez! The route then approaches Salamina from its western side, with views of the town across the valley on the final descent before the climb upto one of Colombia's most beautiful towns with spectators all along the streets to finish the 97km stage outside the church in its beautiful tree lined plaza.
Stage 3: SALAMINA XC CIRCUITWednesday 1st August 2018
Stage cut off time: 4 hours
Salamina is the central point of La Leyenda for the second year running and the middle stage is a variation on the Cross Country circuit around the picturesque town that was so well received in 2017. The stage starts in the Plaza in front of the beautiful church, before winding its way through the steep, maze like streets, lined with colourful, traditional houses and crowds of enthusiastic supporters, crossing from one side of the town to the other as Salamina is built on top of a long ridge with views of the valleys on either side. The three laps once again include the fun 1.5km single track with banked corners in the surrounding countryside.
Stage 4: JUNGLEThursday 2nd August 2018
Stage cut off time: 9 hours
Stage Four, is another transfer day that takes racers south, passing along remote tracks, surrounded by dense forest, and through rural villages with views across the cavernous valley to the town of Aranzazu where thousands of people came out to see the race last year. Small rivers, coffee plantations and avocado farms then line the route up Pan de Azucar, after which there is a fast descent along side the Pantanillo river with bamboo forest either side. The final, testing climb takes you up to Neira, another new town in La Leyenda 2018, where thousands of locals will be sure to cheer you on. This stage is a shorter 80km with 2,566m of ascent, giving a bit more time to recover for the imposing Volcano stage.
Stage 5: VOLCANOFriday 3rd August 2018
Stage cut off time: 12 hours
The penultimate day of La Leyenda 2018 is once again the 108km Queen Stage, Volcano, with a waterfall, two volcanoes and three tough ascents making this stage "the ultimate stage in mountain bike stage races," according to a 2017 Legend. This year the ascent will be from the south side to the mystical race summit at a mighty 3,850m to one of the world's highest aid stations in mountain bike stage races, in the shadow of Nevado del Ruíz and Nevado Santa Isabel in Los Nevados National Park, with the special Kings and Queens of the Volcano jerseys up for grabs. After the almost 40km climb, the longest descent of the race awaits past the Molinos waterfall, and a short ascent to the finish at Termales del Otoño to take you to within one stage and 30km of becoming a Legend again. Queen Stage...done!
Stage 6: EL DORADOSaturday 4th August 2018
Stage cut off time: 4 hours
Stage Six, is the customary final stage of each Leyenda and 2018 will be no different. A short 29km with two more short, but significant ascents, but also some of the best singletrack sections in the Caldas area, with the super fun, fast, flowing Morena and Morenita tracks taking you back towards Manizales and the final descent along the Avenida Santander to La Plaza de Bolívar where it all began a week earlier. The Manizales public will be out to welcome you home, you'll receive your medal and cherished Finisher's t-shirt before the Legends End of Race Party that night in the city.