Sergio Higuita described winning the Volta a Catalunya as a "dream come true", the Colombian now setting his sights on becoming one of the best GC riders in the peloton.
During the seventh and final stage in Barcelona, the 24-year-old was able to hold onto his 16 second lead at the summit of the general classification, a lead that he earned a day before after spectacularly attacking 125km from the line with Ineos Grenadiers' Richard Carapaz.
The win in Catalonia is Higuita's first ever GC triumph in Europe, and marks a significant step forward in his development.
After being mobbed by his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates, most excitedly by former skier Anton Palzer who ran up to Higuita, lifted him up and screamed "you're a f**king legend, man!", the Colombian said: "For me, it's a dream come true to be a leader of a WorldTour stage race.
"It was a clear goal that I had during this year, and I started the year with a lot of confidence, becoming Colombian national champion which for me is an achievement really important. I wear this jersey really proudly on my chest.
"It [the win] helps me to continue to learn going forward, and it shows to me that I can be with the best, that I can ride with the best in these types of weeks.
"This year I will aim for the Vuelta in the best possible way. It's all a learning process, and this week has gone really well with a lot of calmness.
"Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on the youngsters for good results, it's sometimes hard to enjoy the bike.
"Cycling is a sport where you have good day, you have bay days. Anything can happen, so I am very happy that we could ride such an excellent race as a team."
After his heroics with Carapaz - something that Higuita quipped he would tell his children about when they are older - he alluded to the importance of his would-be victory, revealing that he has developed since leaving EF Education First for Bora-Hansgrohe.
"I have learned a lot in the last few years and what’s happened to me is that in 2019 and 2020 I had really good years, and last year was a hard year for me," he said after stage six.
"But it’s a new year, I am learning from the experiences I had, and year after year I am a little more mature and I can manage things a little better."
Speaking close to hundreds of screaming, adoring Colombians just after completing his tirumph, Higuita was asked how he would tell his children about his victory.
"I'd write about everything that has happened before being here today," he said. "Because there are a lot of falls, a lot of sacrifices, a lot of time being alone in the house.
"We have all gone through difficult moments, and this result that has been a lot of years in the making. Due to all these years, I could arrive at a moment here like this."
Higuita's next stage race will be the Tour of the Basque Country that begins in eight days, where he will be among the favourites including Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma.
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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