Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) has decided to switch his Grand Tour objectives this year from the Giro d’Italia, where he has twice finished second overall, to a much less tried-and-tested focus on the Tour de France.
Urán had a bad crash in the time trial half-way through the Giro last year, a race that has produced his best Grand Tour results to date, and he ended up seventh overall. That was some way off his best results in the corsa rosa, where he garnered a stage win and the runner’s up spot in Milan in 2013 - despite working for Bradley Wiggins for most of the first two weeks - and again in 2014, where he briefly led the race as far as the Stelvio stage after winning the Barolo time trial.
Urán also finished seventh overall and clinched the Best Young Rider’s prize in the 2012 Giro, which was at the time Sky’s first victory in any final classification of a Grand Tour, albeit quickly superseded by Bradley Wiggins' victory in the Tour de France that July.
This time around, though, Urán will opt to switch back to the Tour de France after two difficult years in the Giro d’Italia. So far, his best result in three participations in the Tour was 23rd in 2011.
“I’m giving the Giro a miss this year, “ the 30-year-old told Cyclingnews at the Ruta del Sol. “I like the Tour route; it’s different to other seasons, and given I’m going to be going much harder in the spring Classics, it makes sense from that point of view, too.
“I’ve tried doing the Giro and Tour in the same year  and it didn’t work out in either for me. It’s very challenging.”
Indeed, in his year of ‘doing the double’, Urán finished 14th in the Giro and then rode to an anonymous 42nd place in Paris in the Tour.
The 2017 Tour route, though, is ideal for Urán, he believes.
“I think it’s going to be a very explosive, unpredictable kind of Tour this year. The route is full of surprises and opportunities for ambushes, and that’s the kind I like. Obviously, there’s a lot of climbing, but there aren’t the kind of incredibly tough mountain stages that we’ve had to live through in previous years. Instead, there are some mountain stages with punchier finishes in the first week” - such as La Planche des Belle Filles or les Rousses - “and that’s what I like, too.”
Not only that, the spring Classics are once again a bigger objective. His boosted spring program will consist of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Vuelta al País Vasco and, most importantly, the Ardennes.
“I’m not a fan of their changing the route in Amstel [Gold Race] - getting rid of the Cauberg is not good for me - but you’ve still got to be the first guy over those climbs prior to the finish to be up there when it counts,” he reasons.
“I can still give it a go. I’m certainly going a lot better this time round than I was at this point in the calendar last year.”
In the Volta ao Algarve last year, he finished 34th and this year, with one stage remaining in the Ruta del Sol, which runs concurrently to the Portuguese race, Urán is lying eighth.
But rather than Spain, “the first big objective of the season will be Strade Bianche and Tirreno” - races where he finished seventh and third respectively in 2015. However, the biggest change of all for Urán will be this summer.