Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) will be the happiest of the Giro d'Italia general classification riders after the short trip to Northern Ireland at the weekend. The Colombian arrived in Italy yesterday as the leading overall contender, only 19 seconds down on current maglia rosa Michael Matthews. While Urán is happy with how things are going, he’s reluctant to look too far in the future.
“We go with the intention to repeat last year or better it,” Urán told Biciciclismo. “It’s clear that it’s been a good start, but I always prefer to go day by day. It is only the fourth stage and the race is really hard. My sensations have been very good and every day I have been feeling better. The plan is to continue like this. Consistency is very important.”
Urán’s strong position is largely to do with Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s performance in the opening team time trial. The Belgian outfit finished second over the 21.7 kilometre course. With the rain that soaked the riders over the following two days, the peloton was nervous and Urán’s Giro d’Italia could have ended in an instant. However, the Colombian made it to Dublin unscathed, which is more than some of his rivals could say. Urán paid tribute to his teammates, for bringing him to Italy in such a good position.
“The truth is that it all went really well. We started with a very good time trial and the team couldn’t have covered me better in the other two stages,” said Urán. “It is incredible to have a rider like Petacchi next to me, with his experience and all the races he’s won, and everything in general, he was great in the stages in Ireland. The team is used to racing in the windy conditions, typical of the Classics, and in this they are the best in the world.”
For the general classification riders, there was more to lose in the opening weekend than they could gain. “The Giro starts on Tuesday,” admitted Urán. The Italian leg begins with a short 112-kilometre ride from Giovinazzo to Bari. It will be another day for the sprinters, but the mountains are looming and Urán has his eyes on stage 6 as a potential place for a GC shake-up.
“Thursday’s stage will be complicated, it is more than 240 kilometres and then there’s the finale in Montecassino,” he explained. “I think that this is the week for riders like Purito to look to prove themselves. I have to wait. I have a little window and will have to try and follow him and Quintana, if they try.”
“Purito is a very expert rider and he knows the race very well, like Evans or Scarponi. They are all good, including Quintana, although there haven’t been any mountains yet and you can’t compare the condition of everybody.”
Urán finished second in last year’s Giro d’Italia, after he took up leadership duties when Bradley Wiggins abandoned due to illness. The result showed what he could do with the backing of a whole team, although he was already a hot prospect before that. Urán was soon snapped up by Omega Pharma-QuickStep, filling their need for a general classification rider. The Colombian hasn’t is yet to convert his new status into some strong results and he admits that it has got to him a little.
“Yes, I’ve had some doubts about my preparation, because I trained well in the winter and except for Oman the results haven’t arrived. The situation has created some doubts. Without question, the team has given me tranquillity and given me confidence. This year, the big objective is the Giro, now I am good and I have left the past behind me.”