Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) turned in another consistent performance during stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday to keep his slim podium hopes alive. The Colombian all-rounder finished fifth behind stage winner Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and picked up his third top-10 ride in as many days.
With two stages remaining – one of them a short intermediate time trial – Uran sits fifth overall, 34 seconds down on the race lead but just 11 off Mikel Landa's (Movistar) third place. Tuesday's 10.5 kilometre time trial is set to decide the race.
Stage 5 was a war of attrition, with rolling terrain culminating in another tough uphill finish. For many riders, including Uran, this has been the toughest race of the season so far.
An hour after crossing the line, Uran stood propped up against a wall outside his team bus – showered, arms folded and chatting to some of the local supporters who had arrived to cheer him on.
"I had a flat tyre before the climb, on the second passage," he told Cyclingnews as the crowd began to disperse.
"In the end it wasn't a problem because my teammates waited for me and we made it back to the peloton. The whole team worked for me today," he said. "When Yates attacked he was too strong for us. The best thing for me to do was wait and then see what I could do in the sprint."
Missing out on possible bonus seconds was perhaps a disappointment, but Uran took it on the chin. This is his first European race of the season and much bigger goals, such as the Tour de France, are on the distant horizon.
Simon Clarke had worked his socks off for Uran during the stage. As he soft-pedalled along winding roads back to the team bus he turned to Cyclingnews and asked: "Were there any pink helmets up there at the finish?" He need not have worried. Uran is nothing if not consistent and dependable.
"Today was another tough day," the Colombian said.
"It was cold and we had lots of rain at the beginning. We've had three really hard days in a row now, actually. Normally Tirreno is really tough, each and every year."
The podium remains the goal, but it will rely on Uran finding his best time trial legs. All of the current top four are strong against the clock.
"I think I'm now 11 seconds off the podium with two days remaining. I'm going to try and give it everything, but it's going to be really hard to get on the podium because everyone ahead of me is a strong rider."
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