CARACAS. The Vuelta al Táchira, Venezuela’s main cycling event, will start this Friday with teams from Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Italy facing the local brigades.

The Andean tour will be played in eight stages until Friday, January 18, with a total distance of 1,107.9 kilometers.

Traditionally it was celebrated in ten stages, but the economic crisis of the oil country forced to reorganize the route.

The champion of 2018, the Venezuelan Pedro Gutiérrez, had to cancel his participation due to health problems that prevented him from adequate preparation. “I would have liked to be, defend my title (…), but the priority is to recover,” the 29-year-old rider told the press.

The list of champions of the Vuelta al Táchira is headed by ‘El Cóndor’ José Rujano, historical figure of Venezuelan cycling, owner of four titles (2004, 2005, 2010 and 2015). Will be present at the starting line in the town of Bramón, Táchira state, border with Colombia.

Local cyclists have won the competition 30 times. Representatives of Colombia have taken the crown 19 times; of the extinct Soviet Union, two; from Cuba, one; and from Costa Rica, one. (EFE)