One would excuse Rigoberto Uran if he was a little tired after finishing second place in the Tour de France, having won a close stage in Chambéry and fought his way ahead of Romain Bardet in the final time trial. But the Cannondale-Drapac rider insists he's not at the Colorado Classic for a holiday. He cruised in for 19th place in the sprint in Colorado Springs on Thursday behind stage winner John Murphy (Holowesko-Citadel), and is ready to tackle the short, brutal Breckenridge stage.
"I finished the Tour well, I wasn't tired from the Tour. I wanted to come to Colorado, to do well here. Also, it's my first time here. I like to experience different things, that's why we are here," Uran said before the opening stage.
Part of the reason Uran is still fresh despite having finished so well in a Grand Tour is that he came into the race with little pressure, an aim at a stage win and maybe a top five overall. There's something to be said for under-promising and over-performing.
"Before the Tour we were seeing that my condition was improving more and more, and honestly, I am a racer who has made the podium in the Giro d'Italia. I was calm. I knew that I liked the route of the Tour de France, and we decided to take it a day at a time in order to do our best, one stage at a time."
Looking back, Uran was left out of many of the pre-race predictions for the Tour de France podium, despite having finished second in the Giro d'Italia twice. Being overlooked by the pundits wasn't an insult, Uran insists.
"It is normal because I had two years without results in the last two Giros, and arriving at the Tour, it's normal that the press would not talk about you because we hadn't been in the limelight for two years," he said. "The team and I arrived calm because we knew we had trained well and wanted to do a good Tour. For us, the most important was to win a stage, and to be in the top 5, and we achieved all of that."
Uran is one of several Colombian riders who have been exciting the fans back home, including Nairo Quintana, sprinter Fernando Gaviria, Esteban Chavez and Miguel Angel Lopez, among others. When asked if he was now the biggest star back home, Uran was demure.
"No, no, I think that there are many stars, including Luis "Lucho" Herrera, it's clear that Nairo has done a lot more. He's earned more results, already he has reached the three podiums, winning a Giro d'Italia and one Vuelta a España. He has very big palmares."
Surely Uran's results in the Tour de France have dramatically increased his value in a contract year, and there are several teams vying for his signature with far bigger budgets than Cannondale-Drapac. Will he stay put at the American team where he seems to fit in so well, or take a risk to move teams again?
"I'm talking to teams but perhaps during this race we'll see if I can say one way or the other."
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