Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) claimed his first ever professional win in his home country when he landed the Colombian time trial title in Rionegro in his home department of Antioquia on Saturday afternoon.
Uran’s last medal in the Colombian time trial championships dated all the way back to April 2007, when – then at Unibet – he took silver behind Santiago Botero in Neiva.
The 28-year-old had not participated in a UCI race in Colombia since, but he made amends by cruising to an emphatic victory on the 40-kilometre course at Mall Llanogrande. Uran averaged 47.455kph to take the win 1:33 clear of Rafael Infantino.
“The parcours was good and the race went perfectly. I am happy to bring this Colombian jersey to Europe as I hoped,” Uran said. “I found immediately a good tempo and I was always in control. For me, this victory is also important because this is the first time in years I was able to ride in Colombia. I had a silver medal in this event eight years ago. So I am proud to come back home, after all this time, and take the next step with gold.”
The first part of Uran’s 2015 campaign is focused primarily around the Giro d’Italia, where he has finished second overall in each of the past two years, behind Vincenzo Nibali and his fellow countryman Nairo Quintana, respectively.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) will line up in Sanremo for the start as the strong favourite for the maglia rosa, but Uran will have designs on stealing a march in the long time trial at Treviso in the second week.
Uran’s strength against the watch improved notably on swapping Sky for QuickStep at the beginning of 2014, culminating in his resounding win in the Barolo time trial at last year’s Giro, which was his first victory against the watch since a stage of Euskal Bizikleta in 2007.
Uran will hope that his display in Antioquia on Saturday is an augury for what is to come later in the year and, perhaps, for what is to come in Sunday’s road race, where Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will be among his rivals for the national title.
“There was a great public on the road for me and I had a feeling at times like I was at a time trial of one of the biggest races in the world. My public was really important in motivating me today. Their cheers gave me that extra push along the parcours,” Uran said after the time trial. “Now I will try to do something good in the road race tomorrow, but we will see. I will do my best. I accomplished my main goal and today I am happy."
Uran’s first race in Europe this season will be the Classic Sud Ardèche in France on February 28. He will then ride Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie before tackling the Giro, while he is also scheduled to make his first Tour de France appearance since 2011.