SIMON VAN VELTHOOVEN
World Champs 2014, Colombia
Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine, controlling 80% to 90% of the global market.
The boom years began in the early 1980s. The Medellín Cartel, led by Mr Pablo Escobar, became the principal mafia, and its bosses lived in freedom and luxury. They even founded their own political party, held congressional seats, established two newspapers and financed massive public works and public housing projects. By 1983 Escobar’s personal wealth was estimated to be US$2 billion, making him one of the richest criminals in the world.
The war against cocaine became bloody in August 1989, when the drug lords gunned down Luis Carlos Galán, the leading Liberal contender for the 1990 presidential election. The government retaliated with the confiscation of nearly 1000 cartel-owned properties, and announced a new extradition treaty with the US. The drug traffickers responded by declaring an all-out war on the government and assassinating any politician who supported the extradition treaty. Their campaign of terror included burning the farms of politicians and detonating bombs in banks, newspaper offices, political party headquarters and private homes. In November 1989, the cartels bombed an Avianca flight headed from Bogotá to Cali, killing all 107 on board.
Today’s Colombia is thankfully far from what it once was and is now a vibrant colourful place that loves all sport mainly football, cycling and inline speed skating. After travelling there 4 times now for previous World Cups and last week’s World Champs I can say it’s a great place to race. But I still would not go anywhere at night by myself. One of the excellent things about hotels in South America is the fresh fruit everyday from local suppliers, sometimes from stalls just off the street. I think we all came home in ‘better condition’ because once you get a taste on fresh Paupau or Watermelon it’s hard to stop.
Team Sprint, World Champions
After a hectic month long build up, the team to race was still not named until 3 days before competition. This is because the hardest thing being a power athlete is how up and down your condition is and it is so important to time it perfectly so that your hitting maximum power numbers the week leading into a pinnacle event.
Being part of the squad I knew that whoever rode was going to do well but to see them all step up to beat the best in the world knowing you had a major part in it made it that much more satisfying. We came close to winning last year so to win in great fashion against the current world record holders Germany made it an even better victory.
There is a good feeling within the team as we continue our road to Rio. The season was extremely long and hard yakkar with all the northern hemisphere trips for UCI qualifying races we had to do.
After seeing the end of the season I can now understand how a competitive enthusiastic environment breeds success, you can not do these things on your own by yourself day in day out.
The riders in a team will decide a year out whether they want to win a world title or not and the competitiveness within the team will get those titles. Bloody hell it’s a high stress environment, but you just stay cool headed and control what’s under your control.
Keirin- You have probably all read it in the media, I got disqualified in the semi for a minor infraction that had no effect on the outcome of the race. No warnings no relegation no restarts. Utter bullshit. I wasn’t angry at the commasaires, more surprised because it’s the first time in history that anyone’s been pulled up with that infraction. Oh well, try and win it again next year.
Kilo TT, Bronze- I’m starting to get sick of these bronzes. It’s time I started bloody winning. This is my 3rd medal in the kilo but I must remind myself this years winner Francois Pervis is 31 and didn’t get on the podium until he was 27 so i must be doing sometsomething right. I just remind myself that ‘good things take time and your turn will come, but keep on your toes and don’t keep doing what you’ve always done’.
This week we have our national champs so get to Cambridge and see us all in the action including the new World Champions. After those champs I’ll be putting my feet up until I leave for Japan in early April.
Another big year coming up with the Commonwealth Games in there so as always it’s exciting times ahead!
Simon van Velthooven
New Zealand Sprint Cyclist
World, Commonwealth, Olympic Medalist
Proud Volkswagen Ambassador