July 20, 2013 Updated: July 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm
Fernando Riveros needed a break.
Time off the saddle restored his body, and a little time in front of the TV gave the Colombian some much-needed inspiration.
But not any ordinary TV show, though.
"In the beginning of my season, it was just racing, racing and racing, and I didn't get any rest," said Riveros, who has been living and training in Colorado Springs the past two years. "I was down on my motivation. I started watching the Tour de France and saw my friends from Colombia representing my country. It gave me more motivation to continue and start training again."
Riveros kicked it into high gear Saturday in the fourth and final lap at the Ascent Cycling Series' fourth installment at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. He broke away from JJ Clark and recorded a 56-second victory over the 20.8-mile journey, completing the race in 1 hour, 49 minutes.
Just 10 days ago, Riveros edged Clark in the previous Ascent race at Palmer Park. The cyclist hopes he's rounding into championship form headed into the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Aug. ?10-11 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec.
Meanwhile, Clark, a systems engineer by day, was less than a week removed from the famed Breckenridge 100, where he finished a close second in the 68-mile race. The event took more than five hours to complete.
"I think we were both able to get a little bit of a gap from the rest of the field," Clark said. "Neither one of us felt like working too hard since we've both had a lot of races, so we both cruised. At the end, he just pulled away, while I just lost focus, lost that edge. It doesn't matter if the race is 20 minutes or eight hours, they're all going to hurt."
Clark actually crossed the start line to start the third lap in first place, just a few ticks ahead of Riveros. The bell lap changed that order, with Riveros holding a slim lead heading into the final loop of 5.2 miles across the sandy, technical terrain of the state park.
"It was super fast, and it was really hot," Riveros said. "Today was about having one pace, all day, and I felt like I was running pretty good."
Down the line, perhaps his riding will earn him a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He barely missed out on the London Games last summer.
"This will be our Olympic games since they're coming to South America," Riveros said. "This is my goal for a long period, to ride in the Olympics, and I'm looking forward to trying to achieve that. Of course, I love the guys racing in the Tour. It makes me so emotional, just watching them. It makes me so proud to be a Colombian, not just to be a cyclist, but to see them representing my country. Maybe one day I can be part of the Tour de France. Why not, right?"
The fifth and final race on the Ascent Series, organized by Sand Creek Sports, takes place July 31 at Bear Creek Terrace, the site of the opener June 5.