BUCARAMANGA, Colombia (February 3, 2023) — Diana Peñuela rounded the final corner, outkicking Paula Patiño (Movistar Team) in a thrilling sprint to successfully defend her Colombian national road title on Friday. Peñuela’s win in Bucaramanga came a day after earning a silver medal in the individual time trial championship as the 36-year-old embarks on her second season with DNA Pro Cycling.
“There is nothing better than having the opportunity to represent the tri-color national champion jersey around the world,” Peñuela said following her second consecutive victory. “Last year, I put forth almost a desperate mental and physical effort, after coming so close for many years. The plan this year was to have patience, to know which break and attacks to control, and of course, to mark riders like Paula (Patiño) and Natalia (Franco), who are very strong. I stuck to it, kept a cool head on my shoulders and everything turned out great.”
Peñuela spent much of the offseason training at home in Colombia, preparing for her first objective of the season. Much of the championship circuit was held on the same roads as the final stage of last season’s Vuelta a Colombia, where Peñuela won 4 stages and the general classification.
“December and January were good months for training with little rain, so I was able to put in a solid block of training … I knew it was going to be tough. I knew I had to have the speed to stay with multiple attacks, be able to climb with the best, and have reserves for the final sprint,” she said.
The victory came in the final 50 meters of the 118.5km circuit race that included 5 times up the Alto Parqueadero climb with an average 8% gradient. Towards the end of lap 3, three riders escaped– Lina Rojas, Carol Henao, and Karina Flores – this breakaway later grew to 10, with both Peñuela and Patiño joining. Natalia Franco, who races with the UCI WCC Team, was also part of this break. Franco broke away solo on the penultimate lap but was caught on the final climb before a remaining group of 8 raced to contest the finish.
“When you’re on your own in a race, versus with teammates, you must consider strategies and tactics very carefully. I’ve gained more experience each year, and with the pre-race direction from Cathy and Jack (DNA Pro Cycling directors), I was able to approach the race more calmly and with a plan,” Peñuela said.
The 2X Colombian National Road Champion will have the opportunity to race in her national jersey as she begins her 8th season racing professionally.
“This was my first objective of the season. Not only for my trade team, but also to be part of the Colombian National Team to race in the Pan American games,” she said. “I’m looking forward to an exciting season with DNA Pro Cycling, with upcoming races in the United States and Europe. I’m especially looking forward to supporting our new young riders and hopefully help them to secure results.”