As the Tour de France barrels towards its conclusion, each individual stage of the race becomes more and more intense and important. Thursday’s Stage 18–a 111-mile long trek through the Briançon region–was doubly important for the Tour’s Colombian cyclists; not only were they expected to perform well, given the alpine nature of the stage, but also because July 20th is Colombia’s Independence Day.
As part of the celebrations–a collaborative effort between the two countries currently hosting the France-Colombia Year, a celebration honoring the athletic, cultural, and diplomatic bond between the two countries–a Colombian flag was hoisted at the start of the stage, and a music-and-food festival was held afterwards in the town of Briançon. Present at Stage 18 were the Colombian Ambassador to France, Federico Rengifo, and organizers for the Colombia-France 2017 initiative, Anne Louyot and Fabián Sanabria.
The latter, speaking about Thursday’s celebrations, said that “As Colombian climbers persevere in the Tour de France, they carry the torch of hope. The strength of their spirit reflects a whole people, the people of Colombia.”
— Année FranceColombie (@FrCol2017) July 20, 2017
Unfortunately, it was not a Colombian cyclist that won Stage 18 following the celebrations; that honor went to France’s Warren Barguil. However, two Colombians did finish in the top 5 in Briançon: John Darwin Atapuma finished just 20 seconds behind Barguil, while Rigoberto Urán came in 5th, 2 seconds behind his countryman. Urán currently sits in 3rd place overall following Stage 18, which puts him in decent position to make the push to become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France in history.
— La Caravane du Tour (@CaravaneduTour) July 20, 2017