Rigoberto Uran (Sky) came into the Tour de France as one of Bradley Wiggins' mountain domestiques but after the British rider crashed the Colombian has become the team’s leader, and with six stages left looks a strong candidate for the white jersey.
Uran sits in 11th place overall and leads Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) by 1:07 and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) by 1:25.
“Once Brad went we revaluated it and white was a realistic goal,” Sky’s Rod Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.
Uran was signed in the off season and despite knowing virtually no English at the time has immersed himself in Sky’s environment.
“His English is coming on and he’s a great character to have around in the team. He’s always messing around and joking,” said Ellingworth.
But the Colombian wasn’t signed from Caisse d'Epargne for his good humour alone, and according it to Ellingworth, who has nurtured a hub of British talent through the GB’s system, Uran’s potential as a stage race rider was what really marked him out.
What Ellingworth and Sky’s backroom staff have been able to add to Uran’s promise is a far more structured training environment, support and sports science. Now, instead of long training riders in which Uran could decide for himself how hard he pushed his body, Ellingworth ensures that his prodigy is working along more refined lines.
“He’s super talented but before he never had a structure other than just racing and doing whatever in between and that’s the difference that we’ve been able to give him this year, a bit more structure and direction in between. He’s done time trial work and just general structure and he’s really enjoyed that because he’s not having to wonder if he’s doing the right thing because he’s getting advice from people around him.”
As for the language barrier, Sky organise weekly conference calls between Uran, Ellingworth and a translator.
“We have Ollie Cookson and we have a conference call each week and he gets on with it really well. Uran never asks for much. We over cooked him once earlier on in the year and I think that was a good lesson for us all because he’s so willing to get on with it he nailed himself in a session. You live and learn as you move along.”