Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quickstep) seemed to have slipped out of overall contention at the Giro d'Italia after being hampered by illness and crashes in the first part of the three-week race. But after avoiding the crash that cost Alberto Contador and Richie Porte time in the final kilometres of Friday's stage to Jesolo, he is now back with a chance of securing at least a place on the podium for a third consecutive year.
Uran dominated the rain-soaked 42km hilly time trial to Barolo at the 2014 Giro d'Italia, pulling on the pink jersey as a consequence. He is expected to gain significant time on Aru and even on Contador in Saturday's 59.4km time trial between Treviso and Valdobbiadene. The final 30km of the long time trial twist and turn through the vineyards that produce the millions of bottles of Italian prosecco sparking wine, and Uran is known for his bike handling skill and climbing. With no true hilly time trial experts in the start list, Uran could be popping a cork in celebration on Saturday.
Two days ago Uran crashed on the finishing circuit of the stage to Imola, splitting his helmet and collecting plenty of road rash. He was happy to avoid yet another crash in Jesolo.
"The finale was slippery and therefore a bit dangerous, especially with a few roundabouts. So I followed the wheels of my teammates and avoided bad luck, crossing the line in good position," he explained.
"It was a short, but nervous stage with a lot of rain. Fortunately Boonen and the others knew how I had to stay in a flat and chaotic stage like this."
Hopes for the time trial
Uran will ride the time trial in his Colombian national champion colours and is hoping to produce a similar ride to last year's Giro d'Italia time trial and his performance at last year's Vuelta a Espana time trial, when he was beaten by teammate Tony Martin but was faster than Fabian Cancellara. Uran checked out the time trial route earlier in the season. He studied the 59.4km time trial course and the Etixx-Quickstep team is known for meticulous preparation.
"They're also predicting rain for tomorrow, so it will be even harder," Uran pointed out. "It's a huge effort and of course it is an important stage for me, as well as the other GC contenders. I want to honour my Colombian Champion jersey.
"Technically it isn't super hard, but it will certainly be a tough time trial with a primary focus on keeping the effort balanced."
Uran revealed he is still recovering from the consequences of his Imola crash but true to character, he remains upbeat.
"My neck and shoulder still hurt, but fortunately I have our physios who will help me a lot, and will work on the muscles. I will be at the start tomorrow in the best condition possible," he said.
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