For a second consecutive year, Diana Peñuela (DNA Pro Cycling) used a late kick in the closing stretch to the finish and sealed another year as the Colombian road race national champion. Her win in Bucaramanga came a day after earning a silver medal in the individual time trial, finishing 16 seconds behind Lina Marcela Hernández.
In 2022, Peñuela sprinted to her first national title in Pereira after taking a silver (2015), a bronze (2021) and three fourth-place finishes in the road race in the past decade.
“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,” Peñuela said about her successful defence of the road race title against WorldTour and Continental talents.
“I stuck to it, kept a cool head on my shoulders, and everything turned out great.”
The women’s circuit race of the Colombian National Championships on February 3 featured five laps up Alto Parqueadero across 118.4 kilometres, with an average gradient of 8%. Peñuela was part of a decisive breakaway of eight that formed on the final lap, and she stayed with Patiño (Movistar) and Franco (WCC Team) among a selection of five riders headed to the finish line together. The DNA Pro Cycling rider jumped in the closing 50 metres to take the victory just ahead of Patiño.
The route was familiar, most of the circuit comprising roads used in the final stage of last season’s Vuelta a Colombia, where Peñuela finished fourth on the day but took the overall title with a string of four victories in four other stages.
“There is nothing better than having the opportunity to represent the tri-color national champion jersey around the world,” Peñuela said following her win.
She’ll flash the tri-coloured stripes in the Colombian champion’s jersey to open her season with DNA Pro Cycling in March at GP Oetingen in Belgium, followed by Tour de Normandie in France. She’ll then be part of the roster for early-season UCI stage racing in the US at Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage Race, where she finished both races in the GC top 10 last year. Her 2022 spring campaign included fourth overall at Redlands Bicycle Classic in California, but she will opt to compete at the Pan-American Road Championships in Panama in mid-April instead.
“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 helping them to secure results.”
Now in her eighth pro year of racing, Peñuela begins a second season with US-Continental squad DNA Pro Cycling this year and is under contract through 2024. The team has a roster of 13 riders this season and will be able to support squads in both road races and US criteriums, including the American Criterium Cup. The new opener for the ACC is April 22 at Athens Twilight Criterium in Georgia, sandwiched between the Gila and Joe Martin stage races.