It could not have been a better year. He 2003 Tour de France it contained its 100 years of life and Colombian cycling had to be there to honor the date.

That time, the competition had three Colombian riders in action: Víctor Hugo Peña (US Postal), Iván Parra (Kelme) and Santiago Botero (Telekom)and the first was the big star.
(Egan Bernal ‘takes her cheap’ in stage 8 of the Tour de France) (Video: moment in which Mark Cavendish falls and is out of the Tour de France)

How was the plan built?

The fourth stage was a team time trial. It was held on July 9, over 69 kilometers starting at Joinville forks Saint Dizier and at the end of the same Peña made history, he became the first Colombian to be the leader of the race, to dress in yellow.

Peña wore the leader’s shirt for three days and under the command of johan bryuneelthe DT of the US Postal, of the American Lance Armstrongwho wrecked the race every chance he got.

And 20 years later, Bryuneel remembers how the rock thing happened. he told TIME the details of the feat of the Santander cyclist.

How was the idea of ​​Peña leading the Tour hatched?
There was no plan. It all started with the prologue in Paris. It was the 100 years of the Tour. Victor was the first of the team. Lance did not have a good stage.

Why the Colombian?
The first week what I used to do was avoid problems. At no time did we think that Peña would wear yellow. On the Tour you go day by day, every week. The first stages weren’t very hard, but they were complicated in terms of concentration, falls, and the wind. The mission was to protect Lance and to make sure that he didn’t have problems with falls, from wasting time at the end of the stages.

What happened that day of the time trial?
Armstrong told Victor, a day before, that he was going to wear yellow. Peña told me that he couldn’t sleep. With all due respect, we wanted to save the day, not have him wear yellow. We wanted to win the time trial, that’s honest, and also put time on our rivals like the CSC and Eleven.

Fernando Gaviria (left), Egan Bernal and Víctor Hugo Peña, the Colombians who have been leaders of the Tour de France.

What problems were there?
It has been one of the best times we have done with the US Postal. Lance was the least strong, he had problems and did not arrive in the same conditions as before. That was key to making that super time, because when he was in shape he even blew up his teammates, but that day he was not well, so everyone always walked at the same pace, including Peña.

How did everything happen?
In the first intermediate time they were delayed, they were very long stages, that was 69 km and they used how to come back.

Different day?
Yeah. I remember that they changed the regulations and the times were taken due to differences between the teams, not individuals. They did not take into account the real times, but differences between the teams. We put 20 seconds into the second, that was the limit, even if it had won by more or less seconds.

What did they say to Peña during the stage?
Lance motivated him. He would say to her, do you want to wear yellow? He gave her a lot of encouragement. He was a great leader and he gave others an opportunity, he gave them the importance of him. There was rain, I had to be careful not to fall and we used normal tubulars and not time trial, because the floor was wet.

What did you tell the group from the car?
the motivation was to win the stage and that is why we encouraged the group to do so. Peña was going to become the leader and the only thing was that he didn’t give up, that’s what we told him. Victor had good form and I knew he wasn’t going to do it.

What happened when the day was over?
Pena was happy. For him it was something big. Everything that it meant afterwards, I knew everything. We talked about it, but at that moment I didn’t know that he was the first Colombian, the first Latino to wear yellow. He took an immense dimension and not the expected one. For him it was something impressive.

Did he speak to you?
I knew what it meant as a cyclist to be the leader of the Tour, I lived it, I was the leader and that was impressive, it was in my country, in Belgian. For a cyclist it is incredible, a dream. He wasn’t team leader, he was Alex Zulle, I dressed in yellow, but it was an anecdote for the team.

What was the indication from then on?
Victor Hugo kept that shirt for three days. It was very satisfying to see him enjoy that event, be the center of attention of the Tour, Colombia. He even spoke with the Presidents of the Colombians and celebrated his birthday dressed in yellow, it was, as there was once, a script for a movie.

How was the issue of going down with food?
He did not, it was a circumstance of the stage. She found herself behind for something, I don’t really remember, and she had to take advantage of it to bring her food. That image went around the world, the leader with candies, but that made them respect him more.

How did Peña react when he lost his shirt?
It was a race situation and he knew that was going to happen. The third day was a mountain stage and I had to talk to Víctor, tell him, before the start, that he had to work for the team. I told him that he needed it, to give way to the first ramps and that’s what he did. He got off the hook and ended his yellow dream. He took it well, he knew that this was his doing.

What did you say to the Colombian?
The fraction ending in Morzine, Richard Virenque won. In it Col de la Ramaz, of the first category, Peña did his job, set the pace as far as he could and handed over the shirt. He stayed, we gave him two candies and I thanked him for the work he did.
(Tour de France: classifications, this is how Colombians go)

Lisandro Rengifo
Editor of EL TIEMPO