Egan Bernal sealed the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz title with a stunning late attack on the final day in Manizales.
The 21 year old hit out three kilometres from the finish and, helped by the brilliant Tao Geoghegan Hart and Sebastian Henao, stayed clear of the chasing favourites to seal the title by just nine seconds.
Having crossed the line second on the stage, behind Dayer Quintana (Movistar), Bernal faced an agonising wait to see if he had done enough – and he wasn’t disappointed.
Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) led the favourites home 11 seconds later to confirm Bernal’s victory. Sergio Henao finished with Uran and fellow contender Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to wrap up fourth overall, while Bernal also claimed the young rider’s jersey.
Speaking before stepping onto the podium Bernal said: “I felt very good all day long and I kept telling the guys: ‘I feel good, I feel good!’ but I had to keep calm and wait for the tougher last kilometres.
“The last three or four kilometres were tougher and I decided to attack. I was fourth on GC so I didn’t have a lot to lose but I had everything to gain.
“I tried, I gave everything and finally I got a little advantage. I had two teammates in the break and they did an amazing job! I was telling Tao: ‘Tao, Tao, it’s so hard, you have to slow down!’ He helped me almost until the last metres.
“The most important thing was to win the GC and not the stage. Of course, it would have been better to win both but the idea was to win the GC. So, my teammates waited for my attack. That’s why I feel so proud and happy with this team. They supported me and did incredible work.”
Bernal arrived at the race on the back of winning the Colombian time trial championship as well as riding to an impressive fifth overall at the Tour Down Under.
“I felt very good,” he added. “The Tour Down Under was warm and fast and ended well. Then the national time trial title gave me a bit of confidence. I also felt good during the road race that Sergio won. I think that everything was going in the right direction. I came here with the idea to do the best I could.”
And Egan has relished racing on home roads: “This race gave me the opportunity to race in my country, in my homeland, in front of my fellow Colombians. It’s an honour. This race is very positive for the country and I hope that more teams will come in the future.”
The 187.8km stage played out in surprising circumstances, with a large group of more than 30 riders going clear in the early stages.
Stage six result:
1. Dayer Quintana (Movistar) 4:22:11
2. Egan Bernal +10″
3. Sebastian Henao +10″
4. Angel Alexander Gil (EPM) +14″
5. Daniel Martinez (EF Education First-Drapac) +18″
1. Egan Bernal 20:49:03
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +9″