Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-QuickStep) has been one of the Giro d’Italia’s most consistent performers in recent years, with a seventh place and victory in the Best Young Rider competition (2012) followed by a stage win and two overall runner-up finishes on the final podium (2013 and 2014) behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
For the Colombian, now, the big question is whether he can make a breakthrough and take his first Grand Tour win in 2015. However, the 28-year-old preaches caution when asked if he can succeed his compatriot Quintana as the overall winner of the Giro d’Italia.
“I don’t know what I can do here yet,” Urán argued on Friday. “The most important thing at the moment is that I have taken those two places beforehand.
“This year we’ve got a strong team, and I’ll do the best I can in the time trial. But you can’t win the Giro there, because there are a lot of mountains to come afterwards. It’s the third week” - where Urán lost the Giro last year - “where the victory will be decided.”
His approach path to the Giro, he said, was similar to 2014, “but my condition is a little bit better. My top form, though, should come through here on the race.”
A look at the results last year seems to confirm Urán’s words. The winner of the Barolo time trial and Giro d’Italia leader for four days afterwards in 2014, prior to the Giro in the Tour of Romandie, he finished 14th. This year, using Romandie as his last build-up race again, he took fifth.
So what does Urán predict the final podium in Milan on May 31st will look like in terms of first, second and third? He grins, jokingly brushing aside the question by saying “Urán-Aru-Porte or Urán-Porte-Contador - I don’t know.” However, his quiet insistence that “I’m in the shape that I want to be,” suggests he is confident of his condition.
His 2015 Giro preparation hasn't been simply getting in good form. In early March, Urán also carried out a thorough on-site reconnaissance of the Giro’s key time trial stage, and again, prefers to be cautious about what he has seen rather than getting gung-ho about any particular part of the route.
“All of the Giro’s stages are complicated, sometimes one of the most straightforward days here are the most difficult. But it’s clear the biggest time gaps will come in the mountain stages,” Urán argued. However, he also argued that “with an hour and 20 minutes for the time trial stage, there are going to be some very big gaps, there, too.
“Psychologically, I’m in good shape. Contador, Porte, the others will up there - Aru too. Contador has had a great career so far and it’s clear that Grand Tours are where he’s at his strongest. He’ll put up a big fight.”