PEREIRA, Colombia (February 14, 2022) — Diana Peñuela dug deep into the pedals in a thrilling finish, initiating the sprint early, getting passed, and then coming around in the final 50m to earn her first Colombian national road title. Peñuela had come close before, finishing second four times in the event. The newly signed rider to DNA Pro Cycling had the support of her team directors in the days before the event and during the race which took place on Friday, February 11 in Pereira, Colombia. The team had traveled to Colombia to hand-deliver her Cannondale and other 2022 equipment. The title is the first major race and win of the season.
“I’m so happy. The support the team gave me was fundamental,” Peñuela said. “I wasn’t sure if I was in good form, but the team had a lot of faith in me. They told me to follow the attacks and race aggressively, believing I had the ability to win.”
Peñuela overcame a host of challenges that had been thrown her way last season. She had suffered two broken collarbones, working hard to return, only to become ill with Covid, abruptly ending a difficult season. She now heads into the new season with momentum and the form she is accustomed to.
The race took place on 8 laps of a 17.8km circuit (total 142.4km / 88.5mi), taking the riders up steady climbs in the first half, followed by a descent into a final kick up to the finish. Peñuela had been part of a 6-rider break that included several riders from the Colombian powerhouse team Tierra de Atletas, that included last year’s champion.
“I tried to go solo so I wouldn’t be carrying multiple riders to the line from the same team,” Peñuela added. “Of course, it was difficult with all of them. Each time we made the climb, I enforced a strong rhythm to try to keep control. On the final climb to the finish, if they surprised me, it was going to be that much harder for my legs to respond.”
“At the finish, I began to cramp at 1.5km-to-go but knew I had to keep pedaling. Last year, I finished third at nationals, and I told myself, ‘No! I can’t finish second or third this time. I want that jersey!’”
DNA Pro Cycling team now looks ahead to a full season of scheduled races, hoping to continue the winning momentum. The team is planning a camp in Tucson, Arizona during the first week of March.