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by Shane Stokes
May 23, 2014
Although he’s best known as a climber, Rigoberto Uran underlined abilities against the clock on stage twelve of the Giro d’Italia when he dominated the 41.9 kilometre test, finished over a minute clear and took over the Maglia Rosa from the rider tipped to hold it, Cadel Evans.
Uran, who moved to the Omega Pharma Quick Step team this year after riding to second overall in the Giro with Sky twelve months ago, tore around the undulating course and steadily took time from Evans and the other GC riders.
He finished one minute 17 seconds ahead of runner-up Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and one minute 34 up on Evans, who lost a little time when he ran wide on a bend. Tinkoff Saxo’s Rafal Majka was a further five seconds back in third.
“To win the time trial has great significance for me personally, for my team, and for Colombia, and to take the Maglia Rosa as well is a nice surprise,” Uran said afterwards. “There’s a long way to go, of course, and the real mountains are still ahead of us, but today is important.”
He said that he had prepared well for the race against the clock, both in terms of reconnaissance and also bike position. “I came here twice to look at the route. I worked hard with Specialized and went to the wind tunnel in California,” he said.
“I rode well in the time trial at the Tour of Romandie. During the race today, I was given repeated updates on Cadel Evans’ times, and I think it made a difference. I wanted to do well today, but I didn’t expect to win and take the jersey.”
The general classification outcome was that Uran moved from second to first overall, displacing Evans by 37 seconds. Majka is one minute 52 seconds back in third, with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) and Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Movistar Team) at 3 mins 29 secs all between two and a half and three and a half minutes in arrears.
Evans admitted to being both surprised by Uran’s result and disappointed by his own. However, being just over half a minute back is something which still gives him reason to believe he can win the race. “My position is good tactically. I think it is going to be interesting.”
Belkin’s Rick Flens led early on, with Thomas de Gendt (Omega Pharma Quick Step) later taking over the lead despite losing time when he changed a bike en route. After he finished rain started falling heavily and this made things considerably trickier for the subsequent riders.
Giant Shimano’s Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano) came a cropper on the twisting descent, tumbling over a barrier and being forced out of the race. It was later announced that he had avoided fractures. He was the day’s sole non-finisher, while Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff Saxo) didn’t start after suffering a concussion on Wednesday.
The course began to dry out and this helped riders to push harder in the corners. Lampre Merida’s Diego Ulissi made the most of the improving conditions to go almost a minute quicker than De Gendt, but while his pace was faster than that of Evans, he had to accept second place behind a dominant Uran.
The Colombian had a difficult start to the season. He said that this helped him to focus on the Giro. “I wanted to do well in Tirreno-Adriatico and in the Tour of Catalonia, but I had stomach trouble. When the results didn’t come, the team re-focused entirely on the Giro,” he stated.
“We’re here in good health, with a great team, and we want to do well in the Giro d’Italia. I’m 27 years old, still young, but I’ve already been professional cyclist for 9 years and I think it was time I started getting results like this. I used to win time trials in Colombia, when I was still a junior.”
Uran finished second overall in the race last year and believes he has made sufficient progress to think of the final Maglia Rosa. “I’ve learned a lot since last year. I moved to Omega Pharma – Quick-Step to be the team’s leader in the three week tours, and I’ve worked hard,” he said.
“In Ireland we were very clear about this: we said we were here to win the Giro, and that’s what we’re aiming at.”