*by Klaus of “CyclingInquisition.com”:http://www.cyclinginquisition.com/ *
When Team Sky’s Rigoberto Urán was only 14 years old, his father was senselessly gunned down in the streets of Urrao, Colombia. In that moment, Urán became the head of his household, taking over his father’s job, while still attending school, and trying to spend time on a new endeavor that he’d only recently taken up: cycling.
It was around that time that the local cycling club in Urrao took Urán under their wing. They supported him, and helped him through an unbelievably difficult time. Urán was not alone, as those in the club rallied to help the 14 year old in any way they could. This support eventually led to Urán securing a professional license, and eventually a contract racing in Italy, which provided much needed funds to his extended family.
Urán never forgot that cycling club, or the help they gave him. He continued to check in on its members, and rode with them when he went back to Urrao.
But after twenty one years of existence, the cycling club that changed Rigoberto Urán’s life—the one that took him in and helped him become a professional—appeared to be coming to an end less than two years ago. There was a general lack of organization, and an unwillingness to do the work necessary to continue a cycling club in a town like Urrao. Suddenly, it looked as though two decades of cycling tradition in would be coming to an end.
It was then that Juan Carlos Cuervo stepped in to make sure that the club would continue. He had known Rigoberto Urán for over ten years, and through him knew what the club was capable of. As Rigoberto’s story proved, the club’s importance within Urrao went well outside the realm of sport. It was with this in mind that Juan Carlos organized events to help raise money for the club, including raffles and fruit cocktail stands throughout town. His devotion to the club and its young members was undeniable. Those who previously ran the club, as well as its young members, recognized Juan Carlos’ leadership and commitment instantly, and he was voted in as the club’s president.
Today, his dedication for the club continues, as he continues to seek financial help for basic items that the member’s families simply can’t afford. Juan Carlos has also helped strengthen the relationship between Rigoberto Urán and the club (the club is now officially called The Rigoberto Urán Cycling Corporation as a result). Aside from funding much of the club, Rigoberto still rides with them when he’s in town, and passes on the many lessons that he’s learned during his time as a professional. He serves as inspiration to its nearly forty members, since they all know his story very well. They look up to him, and follow him as he races in Europe. As Juan Carlos puts it, “For the kids, seeing Rigoberto at the Tour this year was absolutely euphoric. It meant so much to them, and gave them great pride to see him race like that.”
While Rigoberto’s inspiration and knowledge is helpful to these young cyclists, Juan Carlos is quick to point out that because of where the members live, the club’s mission extends outside of cycling. “Our members come from very, very poor families. They struggle on a daily basis along with their families just to live. So their lives are very difficult from a young age. It’s for this reason that our goal is to help them grow as cyclists, but more importantly to grow as people. We want to keep them away from the problems that surround them, including drugs and alcohol abuse, and many other bad things that they can get into around here. They have to gain values that will help them build Colombia into a better society.”
It’s a lofty goal for a small cycling club: to build Colombia into a better society. But with Rigoberto’s inspiration and Juan Carlos’ hard work, it’s certainly possible.
Rapha are donating five dollars (US) from the sale of each Colombian Super-Lightweight Jersey to the Rigoberto Urán Cycling Club.