The Tour de France lasts three weeks but is ultimately decided by a few seconds, with any moment in the race a chance to gain or lose time. Rigoberto Uran can thank his teammates at EF Education First-Drapac if he is still in the battle for overall victory this year after they helped him catch the peloton after being caught up in the crash in the final kilometres of stage 4 to Sarzeau.
As on-board video footage showed, fellow Colombian Daniel Martinez’s quick thinking and quick actions meant Uran jumped on his teammate's bike and was pushed off at speed, away from the chaos and delay. Simon Clarke, Sep Vanmarcke and Tom Scully also reacted quickly and dragged Uran back to the peloton at high speed.
Uran finished 81st in the same time as stage winner Fernando Gaviria. In contrast, Ilnur Zakarin, who failed to tell his Katusha-Alpecin teammates via radio that he had crash, lost 59 seconds, a serious blow to his overall hopes in the Tour de France.
The day after their Tour de France, everyone at EF Education First-Drapac was understandably proud of their performance. The US-based WorldTour squad know they dodged a bullet and showed their strength and unity as a team.
"You can't ask for more than that," team manager Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
"All of the team were fantastic, not only where they attentive and aware, they also reacted quickly and then were selfless in their execution. When you put all that together, it means you have a really switched-on team. In addition, to that, you clearly have a very selfless team that is very nice too. It's something to be proud of."
Vaughters was especially praising of Martinez, who gave Uran his bike and then gave him a long push to get back up to speed.
"The way he did it was solid, stuff of a seasoned pro, not a 22-year-old WorldTour debutant. It was like a cyclo-cross change: bang, boom, swoosh!" Vaughters said.
Martinez is in his debut season at WorldTour level but clearly knows how to react in any race situation. He has paid back EF Education First-Drapac for his selection for the Tour de France in one key moment, well before he is expected to help Uran in the Alps and Pyrenees.
"The race was on and so when I saw Rigo in the crash, the first thing that came to mind was to give him my bike," Martinez told Cyclingnews, rightly beaming with satisfaction.
"We have same size bike but we hadn't really thought or planned about such a scenario. It just went right. I saw Zakarin was in the crash and he lost time. The rapid reaction and work of the whole team meant Rigo didn't lose a single second."
A huge talent for the future
Martinez and Uran are close. The two Colombians are sharing a room at the Tour de France and Uran, like everyone at EF Education First-Drapac, considers the him to be a huge talent. Martinez was involved in an altercation with a motorist in Italy in late March but recovered quickly to finish third overall at the Tour of California. He was also fifth at the early-season Colombia Oro y Paz race and seventh at the Volta a Catalunya.
"Rigo thanked me for helping him and so did the team but I'm the one who needs to thank them. Rigo helped me step up from Wilier Triestina to WorldTour level. I'm just happy to have done what I could," Martinez said.
Vaughters is convinced that Martinez can go far in professional cycling. He is a Colombian climber but has the same up-beat, but relaxed attitude that helps Uran to perform so well in Grand Tours.
"I think Dani can eventually be a real contender; for a lot of big things," Vaughters said.
For now, Martinez is just happy to be riding for Uran at the Tour de France.
"It's a big step up but I wanted to ride in the WorldTour. Jonathan gave me the opportunity and I so I'll always be grateful to him and to Rigo. I hope to do my best for team and for myself.
"I rode the Giro d'Italia last year with Wilier Triestina but the Tour de France is something else, it's huge. It's great to be here. I think Rigo can do as well if not better than his second place last year. We're riding the Tour to win."
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