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Second in the past two editions of the Giro d’Italia, Rigoberto Uran’s chances of improving on that – or even of finishing on the podium this year – took a blow on Tuesday’s fourth stage when he lost contact with the other GC contenders and conceded time to them.
The Etixx-QuickStep rider was distanced when Fabio Aru (Astana) launched an attack with 11 kilometres to go. Joined by other contenders such as Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Richie Porte (Sky), they bridged to the breakaway ahead while Uran was put on the back foot.
The Colombian rider was unable to return before the finish and crossed the line 21st, one minute and four seconds behind the solo winner Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) and 42 seconds behind the 12 man chase group led in by Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge).
Aru, Contador and Porte were all part of this dozen and thus gained time on Uran.
“It was a difficult day all day,” the latter explained after. “It was really high speed. When Astana set the tempo in the last 65 kilometers I was able to sit in the wheel. All was going well, but in the last climb I suffered a bit and couldn’t follow when Aru accelerated.
“At that point I tried to set my tempo and lose as little time as possible going into the finish.”
Uran is now fourteenth overall, one minute 11 seconds off the pink jersey worn by Clarke, and knows that his overall chances have been damaged. Still, he’s looking ahead and will try to perform more strongly in the stages to come.
“It wasn’t a super day for me, but tomorrow is another day,” he said. “The climb of Abetone is a different kind of climb so we will see how things go tomorrow.”
The team had another setback on Tuesday when Gianni Meersman was forced to withdraw. He punctured on Monday’s third stage and suffered a bad crash as a result. His injuries proved to be too much and he dropped out.
“I was lost immediately at the beginning of the stage, but I managed to come back into the peloton,” he explained. “However, after 80 kilometers it was impossible to continue.”
He said that he had a pain in his back and also in his chest, making it hard to both breathe and also to ride the bike.
Given that the team lost Pieter Serry to a collarbone injury sustained on stage two, Uran has only six others to back his quest for success.
Directeur sportif Davide Bramati was frank that the losses of the two rides was a setback.
“Today we lost Gianni, which means we are down two guys in four days,” he stated. “This is not really the best way to start the Giro. Rigo also suffered a bit.
“But the Giro is three weeks long. The guys are committed, and of course Rigo has worked hard to do well at this race. So tomorrow we will wait and see what can happen, but we want to try to get our chance in this Giro.”
The race continues Wednesday with the first summit finish of this year’s Giro. The 152 kilometre stage from La Spezia concludes at the top of the Abetone climb and will give a clearer picture if Uran can bounce back.