BBC World Service documentary - "The Flying Colombians"
Posted: 5 Jan 2018, 12:45pm
The Flying Colombians
Colombia is a country of passionate cyclists. The first bike races took place in Bogota in 1894 and by 1898 it was one of the first countries to have two purpose built velodromes. In the 1950s the great Vuelta a Colombia, a tour of Colombia, was born - 35 cyclists covered an extraordinary 779 miles in 10 stages. All over the country people listened to the commentary on radios and it began to link up Colombians in a common cause.
This is more than just a sporting event. The first Tour took place just two years after the assassination in 1948 of Liberal party leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, which was the catalyst for a bloody sectarian conflict between Liberals and Conservatives, creating deep, violent divisions especially in rural areas. The first Tour was thus promoted as a sign of peace and goodwill, reconnecting the country and reaching into rural communities. Through the turbulent decades that have followed, the Tour has continued to go through parts of Colombia that rarely receive any attention.
We join the annual Vuelta a Colombia, cycling the mountains, cities and villages, to find a totally different perspective on the country. This is an event which brings Colombia to a standstill - that is unless you are on two wheels.