Rigoberto Urán is back! In this time of abundance in Colombian cycling you can always count on somebody to take up the mantle when other escarabajos fail.
On the first rest day of this year’s Tour, Rigoberto Urán is sitting comfortably in fourth position in the general classification, having just won his maiden stage in the most important Tour on cycling’s calendar.
And it wasn’t a small feat. In a dramatic queen stage to Chambéry, the current yellow jersey Geraint Thomas and pre-race favourite Richie Porte both crashed and abandoned the race, while Quintana and Contador waved farewell to their dreams of taking an early lead.
Our jolly hero from Antioquia couldn’t believe his eventual success as he had to cycle with a mechanical gear malfunction for the last 20 kms. Then it looked like Frenchman Barguil had won the stage, but Urán was declared the victor a few minutes after analysing the photo finish.
It has been a long road to redemption for the paisa as some had already written him off. It’s his biggest result since his second place in the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
As for our other Colombians, Nairo risked attempting the Giro-Tour double following the theory that he would perform better in the second Grand Tour of the year. However, he looks likely to finish this season empty-handed. There’s a growing feeling that Movistar’s bosses are clueless about how to bring Nairo to his peak form for July. He seems to be at his best in March and then drops the level. And Movistar were appalling on the ninth stage, basically leaving Nairo on his own for the majority of the stage. There are some serious discussions awaiting the team after the Tour.
Esteban Chaves, as was expected, is far down the GC classification but will look for a chance to sneak into a breakaway and fight for a stage win or polka dot jersey as well as getting many racing kms under his belt for Vuelta.
Pantano has been working for Contador so far but as his captain failed to keep up with the favourites, he may be given a chance to fight for his glory and try for a stage.
Betancur seems to be the strongest of Movistar’s domestiques. The guy has heaps of talent, but his fickle mind and the lack of discipline limits him to being only a supporting act at the moment.
What to expect
Urán and Nairo fighting for the podium, other Colombians hunting stage wins.
Stages to watch closely:
Stage 12 (July 13): Mountaintop finish.
Stage 13 (July 14): Three huge climbs and in very high mountains which may prove decisive.
Stage 17 (July 19): Brutal day in the Alps with the mighty Col du Galibier and a descent to the finish.
Stage 18 (July 20): The final day in the mountains and the last try for climbers to make up time climbing to the finish on the top of Col de Izoard.
Stage 20 (July 22): If not decided yet, this could be a nail-biting time trial with a short but steep climb in the middle of it.
So let’s keep our fingers crossed for Rigoberto and watch out for the other escarabajos chasing stage wins.
By Arek Peryt