After four stages at the 2012 Giro d'Italia where in theory he was on the backfoot, Sky’s main overall contender Rigoberto Urán has found himself to be one of the best-placed overall contenders. But is that so surprising?
A reasonable opening short time trial ride, coupled with a below expectations but far from disastrous team time trial for Sky (compared, say, with last year’s opening TTT at the Vuelta, where they finished third last after a series of crashes all but wrecked their line-up) has ensured the Columbian is pretty much exactly where he wants to be overall as the race heads towards its second weekend.
That was far from being guaranteed. Quite apart from two time trials - not his favourite speciality - as a strong climber Urán is no fan of the flat, open Classic-like terrain which predominated in Denmark either. But rather than lurking in the lower regions of the overall classification after four difficult opening stages, as might have been predicted, surprisingly Urán is one of the best placed overall contenders and quickly losing his previous status as an outsider.
Whilst most of the media attention is directed towards Sky’s Mark Cavendish, over the last few days, his team-mate Urán has been slowly but steadily rising up the Giro GC. He’s currenly placed in 53rd postion, less than a minute behind leader Ramunas Navardauskas, and of the pre-race favourites, only Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) lie ahead.
“The team time trial went fine, I’ve also recovered from my crash in the Ardennes Classics” - where Urán needed stitches in one leg after crashing out of Fleche Wallone - “so I’m feeling ok, and things are going pretty well” Urán told Cyclingnews at the start of stage five.
“The hotter weather here in Italy is definitely good news for me, and so too are these tough stages that we’re about to face in central and southern Italy.” He says his only problem is that “there’s a pretty high pollen count at the moment here in Italy and I don’t like that at all.”
On today’s stage, he’ll spend the bulk of it working for Cavendish “but in the first part, not in the last five kilometres,” he says with a smile. “We’ll try and do the best possible for him, he’s a world champion and he's in great form.”
As for the upcoming Apeninne stages, Urán says “I don’t know them very well, but I hope that’s not a problem. You can’t win the Giro on that kind of terrain, but you can certainly lose it.”