Of the four top contenders for this year’s Italian Grand Tour, Urán is definitely coming off the worst in the first week. He already lost time on stage 4 when he was dropped on the final category three climb and finished 42 seconds down on Fabio Aru (Astana), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Richie Porte (Team Sky). Urán's struggles continued on stage 5 when he was dropped again, this time five kilometres from the summit of the Abetone.
Urán drove himself into the ground to lose as little time as possible, crossing the finish line 28 seconds back in 17th place. Although he actually gained two spots overall as the Abetone took its toll on some other initially well-placed riders who continued to fade in the overall.
Urán is now 1:22 minutes down on Contador, the new race leader.
As if that wasn't bad enough, prior to stage 5, Urán had already lost two teammates, Pieter Serry and Gianni Meersman, because of injuries from crashes.
“It wasn’t good to lose time, it never is,” Urán said afterwards. “I hope to be able to get it back in the third week.”
Asked directly if his chances of winning were fading, Urán remained as upbeat as ever. “This hasn’t been an easy start, yesterday [Tuesday] I already lost time and today some more. But there is still a long way to go. The Giro is full of opportunities.”
Twice second in the Giro d'Italia, Urán’s options are increasingly centered on how well he will fare on stage 14 and the event’s mid-race time trial. Urán took the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia, as well as the time trial, at the same point in 2014.
However, the Colombian’s rivals will not have forgotten that Urán’s strongest moment of the 2013 Giro d’Italia came in the mountains, when, albeit briefly, he was the one of the few riders able to break free of Vincenzo Nibali’s iron grip on the race and take a win at the summit finish of Altopiano di Montasio. For both those reasons, it would be unwise to write Urán off just yet.
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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