Uran, who finished seventh in last year’s race, will find complete backing from his team and especially compatriot Sergio Henao, who sits 11th in the general classification.
The pair may ride for the same team but their friendship goes back nearly a decade when the pair were racing in South America. Uran was the first to make the switch to Europe, signing for Spanish team Caisse d’Epargne before linking up with Sky in 2011. Henao moved to the British team at the start of last season and has already demonstrated his climbing ability in the time since.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews both Uran and Henao talk about their cycling roots, each other’s strengths and weaknesses – Henao rides too quickly in training – and whether they could compete against each other on different teams.
Uran the leader as the Giro heads to the mountains
The effect of Bradley Wiggins’ withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia was neatly illustrated by the scenes in Busseto ahead of stage 13. Apart from a Sky News television reporter recording a to-camera piece gravely announcing the news of Wiggins’ abandon to his British fans, and a pair of Colombian journalists waiting to speak to Rigoberto Uran, there was precious little activity outside the Sky bus, with the tifosi’s attention turned to Mark Cavendish and maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali.
Wiggins had lost over three minutes on the rain-soaked stage 12 to Treviso and there was little surprise when a communiqué from Team Sky landed early on Friday morning to confirm that he had abandoned the Giro, citing a respiratory infection and cold. Speaking to Cyclingnews outside the team bus before the start of stage 13, manager Dave Brailsford admitted that the withdrawal had been growing in inevitability over the past couple of days.
“It wasn’t a quick decision. It was getting increasingly obvious that was going to be the situation,” Brailsford said, explaining that Wiggins’ condition had worsened in the wet conditions on Thursday. “It didn’t take a genius to figure it out to be honest. You could see that if at a certain point in time if it didn’t start to reduce and he didn’t start to recover then.”
Brailsford looked to place Wiggins’ disappointment in context compared to his abrupt departure from the 2011 Tour de France when he suffered a broken collarbone in a pile-up on stage 7.
“He’s disappointed but you know when you’re ill, you’re ill,” Brailsford said. “It’s not like when he broke his collarbone because there one minute he was flying and within seconds the whole complexion of the whole thing changes. This was much more of a gradual realisation that this illness isn’t going to go...
As the Giro d’Italia heads towards the Alps, Robert Gesink (Blanco) remains in contention for a podium finish in Brescia as he lies in 4th place overall, 2:12 off the maglia rosa of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
The list of contenders for final overall victory has been reduced significantly in the second week following the withdrawals of both Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), but Gesink told Cyclingnews in a video interview that he was simply focused on his own race.
“It doesn’t really affect me so far. Wiggins lost a lot of time yesterday. They’ve got other objectives now,” he said in Busseto ahead of stage 13.
Gesink was reluctant to wager a guess on his final overall position in Brescia but admitted that this weekend’s Alpine doubleheader would reveal more. “The objective for the rest of the Giro is to do a good GC but we’ll see about that after tomorrow,” he said.
But the 31.6km course is no ordinary affair. The first 90 percent uses the same time trial route as when the race visited San Jose in 2006, but this time it has a vicious sting in the tail – the 2.7km, 290 meter climb up Metcalf Road, averaging a leg-sapping 10.6 percent.
The first 29km are rolling or flat before the riders hit the climb. Considering that the 12km lead-up to the base of the climb will most likely be ridden into a tough headwind, aerodynamics will be as important as ever. But an aerodynamic bike and riding position aren't ideal for climbing fast, especially on a steep slope. Look for the top riders to make some very tough decisions, which might include a bike change, to get a maximum result.
Current overall leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who took over the race lead Thursday from Jamis-Hagens Berman's Janier Acevedo, said he was hesitant to give away his own strategy for the unique race against the clock, but he did say that the route requires a lot of thinking rather than just going out and riding hard.
"It's going to be a battle of equipment, gearing and whether or not you're going to take a bike change or if you're going to sacrifice weight for aerodynamics" van Garderen said. "It's going to be kind of a lab experiment and a science test a little bit."
The time trial is enough of a "science test" for UnitedHealthcare to...
Czech rider okayed by Saxo-Tinkoff and national federation
Roman Kreuziger's admission that he worked with Dr. Michele Ferrari seven years ago will apparently remain without any repercussions. Both his team, Saxo-Tinkoff, and the Czech cycling federation have said that they will take no action against him. He said that the Italian helped him with workouts and that there was no doping involved.
“I cannot remember the exact dates, but he was my coach for little more than a year, from autumn 2006 to winter 2007,” Kreuziger told sporten.dk. “When I started working with him, I was 20 years old. It was my first year as a professional, and at the time I was convinced that he was one of the best coaches in the world. That's why I contacted him then.
“At the time I did not know that it was forbidden. Today I know that it was poor judgment on my part, and it is quite evident that it was not the right thing to do.
“I regret that and I take full responsibility for my decisions. But I would also like to make it clear that there never was doping involved in our relationship. I received only guidance from him. He helped me with workouts and did some tests on me.”
Kreuziger could conceivably face a suspension for his work with Ferrari, but it appears that both his team and national federation do not seem inclined to sanction him.
“Roman told the same to us as he has told you, and we accept his explanation,” team spokesman Anders Damgaard told sporten.dk.
"We are convinced that Roman has a sincere desire to help cycling forward and work for a clean sport, and the attitude is essential to have when you are on our team.”
Just 41 seconds separate Cadel Evans from the overall lead at the Giro d’Italia as the race faces into a crucial Alpine doubleheader this weekend, but “maglia rosa” seems something of a taboo expression on his BMC team for now.
Evans’ decision to ride the Giro was a late one – he announced his intentions scarcely six weeks before the start – and few would have anticipated that his challenge would outlast those of Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), who both abandoned the race ahead of stage 13.
As the Giro returns to the mountains on Saturday, Evans is the man best-placed to challenge the pink jersey, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), but on the eve of battle, directeur sportif Fabio Baldato preferred to speak simply of how the Australian’s general podium chances had improved following Wiggins’ withdrawal.
“The podium objective is closer, but we still have to keep an eye on [Rigoberto] Urán, [Robert] Gesink and a rider like [Michele] Scarponi because on the climbs they can do something good,” Baldato told reporters in Cherasco after stage 13. “We are closer to the podium, but we have to get to Brescia first.”
Never mind Brescia, the Giro gruppo must first navigate its way to the summit of the Galibier on Sunday. Snow is forecast for the weekend in the Alps, and while Saturday’s finish at Bardonecchia does not appear to be in doubt, there are concerns that stage 15’s spectacular finale atop the mighty Galibier – some 2642 metres above sea level – could fall by the wayside.
“We don't know, we have to wait to see what the organiser will do,” Baldato said. “I know they are trying to save the stages and keep them how they are. If they need to change them due to snow, it's...
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) sat on the floor gasping for air several minutes after producing yet another perfect sprint finish to take his fourth victory in this year's Giro d'Italia.
The Manxman has now won 101 victories in his career. He makes sprinting look easy but turned himself inside out and squeezed every last ounce of speed from his legs to pay his teammates back for all the work they did during the 254km stage.
While other teams feigned fatigue and refused to help chase the break, Omega Pharma-Quick Step accepted their responsibility and ensured the race came back together. While other sprinters wee shelled from the peloton on the series of nasty late climbs, Cavendish fought to stay on, determined to pay back his teammates for their hard work.
He usually stops in the road and hugs them after crossing the line. This time they fought through the scrum of photographers to find him on the floor and celebrate together.
"It could be a cliché to say it's my team that gives me the motivation to win but the confidence they have in me, even when I say I don’t want to sprint, is a huge factor for me," he explained in his winner's press conference.
Cavendish admitted that he is more motivated by the hard work of his teammates than anything he does himself.
"They ride 100 per cent until they can't ride anymore. I said I couldn't win today but they rode from kilometre zero. Cannondale didn't want to ride today but then they went full gas in the finale. My team is different. They pulled every single ounce out of themselves to pull it off and so I had to finish it off. If I don’t do it, I can't sleep at night.
“That's the difference for me. I can do miraculous things when I have a team that believes I can do it as well. I'm on form in the head and my...
The Giro d'Italia heads into the high mountains of the French Alps with finishes at Bardonecchia on Saturday and then at the Galibier on Sunday, yet even the climbs and the risk of snow do not seem to perturb race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Indeed, the retirements of Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) have improved the Italian's chances of victory and simplified any race strategy he may need to ensure he holds the pink jersey all the way to Brescia. He rightly denied the Giro d'Italia has become easier to win.
"The Giro isn't easy, ever," he pointed out.
"Without Wiggins there's one rival less; Hesjedal has gone too. Now we've only got Uran, Evans and Scarponi to control."
Nibali leads Evans by 41 seconds, with Uran third at 2:04, Robert Gesink (Blanco) fourth at 2:12 and Scarponi fifth at 2:13. Those are narrow margins for such a mountainous Grand Tour and Nibali conceded that he needs to gain more time to be confident of overall victory.
"It's difficult to make predictions about what will happen in the two mountain stages," he said.
"We'll see with the directeur sportif and then in the race. It depends if I feel good or bad, it depends on weather too. The forecast is not good. We're fortunate it didn't rain today. We were lucky."
"I hope it's not too cold during the mountain stages, that's very important for me and all the peloton; it's not nice riding in the snow. Evans is close overall and so I have to do something but I've also got to be careful they don't try something. I'm feeling good and I've got to try something in the next few mountains."
Nibali has yet to win a stage in this year's Giro d'Italia. He would like a day of glory but not at the expense of risking his pink...