After winning atop Altopiano del Montasio with Bradley Wiggins as a foil behind, Rigoberto Uran takes sole command of Sky's Giro d'Italia team as the race tackles a crucial doubleheader of stages in the Alps this weekend.
Wiggins withdrew from the Giro ahead of stage 13, citing a chest infection, and Uran – who lies 3rd overall, 2:04 off the pink jersey of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) – assumes outright leadership in the Briton's absence.
Speaking to reporters in Cherasco after the stage, Uran was upbeat about his prospects in the Alps. The race finishes at Bardonecchia on Saturday, but the Colombian pointed to the following day's summit finish atop the Galibier as the more difficult of the two – provided, of course, that the stage is not truncated by the weather conditions.
"When I'm feeling very good, any kind of mountain stage is good for me, with long climbs or short, but the stage to the Galibier on Sunday is one where you could win or lose a lot of time," Uran said.
Uran had few concerns, either, about the troika of tough stages in the Dolomites at the end of the Giro's third week – the mountain time trial to Polsa and the brace of tapponi to Val Martello and Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
"If I'm good, I think I can go well everywhere," he said. "In the last week, the toughest stage is the stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. It's a very tough stage because it's at the end of the Giro and it's already been a hard Giro up to now."
Uran has over two minutes to make up on Nibali, however, and he acknowledged that there are few weaknesses in the Sicilian's armoury. "He's strong in the hot, the cold, in the flat and in descents, he doesn't have any problems," he said.
A number of rider on Nibali's Astana team have been struck by illness at this Giro, however, whereas Sky – even in Wiggins' absence – boast a strong quota of climbers, as evidenced by the tempo they imposed on the lower slopes of the Altopiano del Montasio.
"We have strong riders like Henao, who is going very well, and I think it's important to have a strong team in days like this," said Uran.
Earlier on Friday, Sky manager Dave Brailsford told Cyclingnews that the team's tactical approach was unlikely to alter radically even though the more explosive Uran has replaced Wiggins as the focal point.
"I don't think it changes the style much but obviously what we want to do is not just ride defensively or conservatively, we still want to try and continue to be offensive," Brailsford said. "Sergio Henao's not a million miles away [he lies 11th at 5:06] so we've still got options and I think we've got a strong climbing team. And I think from the team's perspective that's something we can use to our advantage."