Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is in an enviable position as the Giro d’Italia rolls into it’s second week. Urán is in the place most riders would like to be at this point, second. The Colombian doesn’t have the pressure of the maglia rosa, but remains within striking distance when the big mountains finally arrive.
Needless to say, the team are pleased with his progress thus far. “I think if you saw how Uran started this year, he didn't have the easiest approach. But he's getting better and better. He must be feeling good. I think, after a rest day and flat stage, he can get even better than what we've seen so far,” Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Tom Steels said in his blog on the team’s website.
This year’s Giro d’Italia marks the first time in a long time that the Belgian team have been able to put forward an outright contender for a Grand Tour general classification. That is changing gradually with the growth of Michal Kwiatkowski, but Urán’s arrival has given them a huge boost in that department. For a team that is more used to taking on the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix, than charging up the Monte Zoncolan on the front of the peloton, it has been a steep learning curve.
“I think we can be very happy with how the team is functioning right now as well. We came together quickly. For most of them this is the first time they've had to go for a GC,” said Steels. “With the way they worked together for one rider, it shows a great team spirit. So, there is plenty we can do to improve our situation. But if you see it as a team, how they've grown and unified, it's really impressive.”
“I think as a team we will learn a lot from the Giro in three weeks. To stay in the hunt for the GC you have to always pay attention. The GC is already difficult. There is not one day you can let down the tension of the focus. But I must say, up until now, it's been a great experience.”
After the rest day in Modena, the riders return to a flat sprinter's stage, but it won’t be straightforward for the GC riders. Crashes defined the earlier stages of the race, and it’s still possible to lose everything before the tougher stages begin. They return to the mountains on Wednesday, but it’s Thursday’s time trial that Steels believes will be pivotal in deciding the overall classification.
“I think the time trial will be very decisive. Even with so many mountains,” he said. “You see in the mountains, if no GC guy really goes into crisis, the gaps are not that big. They can all stick together. There can be one that goes ahead and of course, if they are in a breakaway that stays away, you can lose everything. That's normal. But I think the time trial will really be where the GC plays out because, if you are 40 seconds in the lead, you can still lose 30 seconds on the climb of the parcours.”
Follow stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia live on Cyclingnews from 11:40 BST.