Following EF Education First's victory on the opening team time trial stage of the Tour Colombia 2.1 on Tuesday, team manager Jonathan Vaughters said that the win was the culmination of his outfit having been able to slowly rebuild itself over the past couple of seasons.
"The talent's always been there," said Vaughters following the TTT win.
"It's just that when you have years and years of doing a merger with one team and a merger with another, you're never really building the team. You're just treading water," he said, referring to his team's merger with the Cervélo TestTeam ahead of the 2011 season, and then again with Cannondale at the end of 2014.
"With mergers, you've got riders coming in from other teams, and it's not strategically built. Little by little in the last 18 months, I've been given the opportunity to strategically build the team, and we're starting to see the fruit of that, and it'll keep getting better.
"The team came together really well today, and pulled off an upset victory, which is always my favourite thing to do when nobody expects that to happen," continued Vaughters. "When everyone is thinking, 'Oh, they'll probably get third or fourth,' and then you pull it off, it's always fun."
Local hero Rigoberto Uran now leads the race after being the first member of the team across the finish line on Tuesday's stage, but the goal remains for his compatriot, 22-year-old Dani Martinez – the recently crowned Colombian time trial champion – to go for the overall victory.
"We're here to try to win the general classification with Dani," EF Education First sports director Juan Manuel Garate confirmed. "This is what we said before we came to the race, and this is something that we will keep to. We are going to protect him and at the same time defend the jersey.
"We respect the race and Rigo has the jersey in Antioquia, so you can imagine what this means to him and to the team," he said, referring to the department in which Uran was born.
The Tour Colombia 2.1 continues on Wednesday with a flat 150.5km stage around La Ceja, which should suit the sprinters.
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