Rigoberto Uran has admitted that he is under pressure more than ever before to win the Giro d’Italia after the Cannondale team set the Corsa Rosa as a major goal for the 2016 season. After two second places on the final podium in the last three years and with the passing of time, too, Uran believes that his and the team’s decision to aim high is logical and possible.
Now 29, Uran still has a very light-hearted side to him. during Cannondale’s pre-race press conference on Thursday, he happily co-operated with Colombian radio journalists when they ask him to record a 30-second special message to urge all their listeners to stay tuned to their Giro d’Italia broadcasts. He also explained about a recently posted Instagram video clip where he can be seen loudly singing along to a Colombian pop song whilst getting ready to go out training, complete with a bidon with flashing lights.
“What did the team say?” a reporter asked a little cautiously. “That I’m medio loco [half-crazy], and they’re right,” Uran replied.
However the Colombian takes his racing very seriously and none more so than the Giro d’Italia. After a quiet spring, in which he recently opted not to finish the last stage of the Tour de Romandie - Uran is now looking for overall victory in a Grand Tour. The pressure is higher this time, partly because of his previous results and partly because as he grows older, more and more young rivals appear.
“I’m still the same person, what is changing with time is that there is a greater pressure each year from the team,” Uran said. “But I also put more pressure on myself.”
“It’s because I’ve been close to getting the overall victory, but it hasn’t arrived yet, so the pressure to win gets higher as time goes by. However, I’m handling that well. I know what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong in the past, and even if there are more rivals, I’m ready to challenge again for the Giro victory.”
Having signed for Cannondale over the winter, Uran believes he will have strong support in the mountains, with Davide Formolo a key part of that. “I’ve got a strong young team here and we’ve been working really hard.”
“My favourites are VIncenzo Nibali, Mikel Landa, Alejandro Valverde and Esteban Chaves as well as this young man here,” he said, gesturing to Formolo on his right in the press conference.
High hopes for the Chianti time trial
Uran’s biggest opportunity to gain time on his rivals may well come in Chianti time trial on stage nine. Over a very similar distance and format in Barolo two years back (42.5 kilometres instead of 40.5 kilometres) he took both the stage win and the overall lead. The Colombian agreed it would be a critical stage for him.
“I’ve seen it and it’s very lumpy, and technical as a course, more so than two years ago, but it will be similar to Barolo,” he said. “Then in the last week, the final three mountain stages will be critical to the overall outcome, as ever.”
Uran said he had no problem switching to an American team during the winter after several seasons at Etixx-QuickStep and Team Sky.
“I’ve been in maybe seven teams in my career so I know almost the whole peloton,” he said with another broad grin, confirming he has lots of friends and few enemies in the Giro d’Italia peloton.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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