SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (August 19, 2022) — Colombian National Road Racing Champion, Diana “Caro” Peñuela, held on to the lead in the general classification to win the 7th edition of the Vuelta a Colombia Femenina for DNA Pro Cycling. Peñuela dominated the six days of racing with the help of her teammates, to win 4 out of the 6 stages, securing overall wins in the GC and points competition. Teammate and Mexican National Time Trial Champion Anet Barrera rounded the final GC podium with a third place, and the overall win in the best foreign rider competition. Lina Hernández of Colombia Tierra de Atletas finished second on GC, just over one minute down.
“It was an incredibly emotional win in my country, representing Colombia and wearing the national jersey. It was a beautiful experience leading the GC from the first day, even if I wasn’t able to wear the national jersey from there on,” Peñuela said of her win. “The truth is, the Colombian Federation worked hard to create a beautiful race; very well-organized event that turned out well for the team.”
The Colombian won the national road championships at the start of the season before the team focused on building teamwork and strategy in stage races in the United States.
The Vuelta, part of the UCI America Tour, has quickly become the primary target for women’s racing in Central and South America since its inception and was a goal of the season for DNA Pro Cycling since signing Peñuela in 2022. 30 teams consisting of 171 total riders from 9 countries were introduced to start the race. Several Colombian teams had only just returned from Europe competing against the best to prepare for the race, ensuring strength and depth of talent among the peloton.
The route took place in the high-altitude mountains of Boyacá, not far from where Tour de France legends Egan Bernal and Nairo Quintana call home. The profiles consisted of longer descents than climbs Peñuela says, but were challenging, nonetheless. The team arrived a week prior to acclimate to the altitude as the opening stage began at over 2500m (8,200ft). The road stages (1, 2, 3 and 5) were each over 100km in length and featured long climbs and technical descents. Stage 4 was a 21km time trial which mainly consisted of climbing and descending. The Vuelta finished with an exciting circuit race in the city of Bucaramanga.
“The Vuelta had become a big focus this season for DNA,” Peñuela added. “It is my country, and the team wanted to win it with me. It was a big responsibility for me to deliver that to them.”
Prior to their arrival in Colombia, the team signed Canadian climbing talent Emily Marcolini to bolster their roster ahead of the Vuelta. Marcolini had quickly become a rival in the mountains in North America since winning the Gila Monster final stage at the Tour of the Gila in May, and the Oak Glen stage at the Redlands Cycling Classic. The Canadian made her debut with the squad in Boyacá. She would play a pivotal role in the mountains for Peñuela before an unfortunate crash on stage 3 forced her to abandon.
“Had it not been for my team, I would not have triumphed. What Emily did in the first two stages, with such impressive form, made it a lot easier for me to arrive with the favorites at the finish,” Peñuela says. “After we lost Emily, Anet stepped up and put in a lot of work to help me defend the lead, along with Daphne (Karagianis) and Kaitlyn (Rauwerda).”
“From the beginning I knew we had the strongest team. When asked by the press who were my main rivals. I replied, had they not been my teammates, they would be my biggest rivals. Because they were my teammates, that gave me much more confidence in facing the competition.”
Peñuela remains in Colombia to train until heading to France for a short racing block with DNA Pro Cycling, after which she will fly to Australia for the UCI World Championships.