Rigoberto Urán is ready to take on the Vuelta a Espana as Team Sky look to keep their Grand Tour momentum going.
The Colombian was highly-impressive over three weeks during May’s Giro d’Italia, the climber finishing a fine seventh overall and pulling on the young rider’s white jersey on the podium in Milan.
Urán makes up one-ninth of the team’s line-up for the third three-week stage race of the season and is relishing a route which looks to underpin one of the most testing Grand Tours in recent years.
Central to the team’s ambitions in the Spanish mountains are the climbing specialists, a role Urán has fulfilled with distinction since joining the squad in 2011.
The 25-year-old joins compatriot Sergio Henao, Richie Porte and Xabier Zandio in supporting Chris Froome, fresh from his second place at the Tour de France, in the mountains.
Ready to race
Last seen helping Henao to an impressive second place at the Vuelta a Burgos, traditionally a warm-up race ahead of the Vuelta, Urán is happy with where his form is as the start in Pamplona approaches.
“Burgos was a good race and good preparation ahead of the Vuelta with the numerous summit finishes,” he said. “I feel I’m ready for the Vuelta and feel like I will arrive in good form.
“It’s a really impressive team we have for this race. The riders are in good shape, we know Froomey is strong and I feel like we have a great opportunity to be successful just like we saw last year.”
Mountains will play a huge role in the race with ascents up the likes of the Cuitu Negru and Bola del Mundo promising to test the climbers to their limits.
That should play into the hands of a Team Sky squad stacked with climbing talent. Urán continues: “The route is very mountainous and that is where the race will be decided. There are essentially 11 summit finishes which really suits my style of riding. All the climbers and GC riders will be up there and it is a good opportunity to show what I can do and to help the team.”
The Vuelta also gives Urán another chance to compete alongside fellow Colombian Henao, a rider who has thoroughly impressed in his first season in the pro ranks.
Despite the strong results, Urán insists it was no surprise to see Henao duking it out with the biggest names in cycling this year.
“I have known Sergio since we were young. We raced in juniors together and I knew he was a big talent. We are very close and so his performances and his level have not been such a big surprise. He’s definitely shown well in his first year and we are racing well together.”
Urán also enjoyed a successful trip to London at the end of July, bringing home an Olympic silver medal in the road race after a late break stayed clear onto The Mall in front of a packed crowd.
On that special day he reflected: “It was a brilliant result for me and for Colombia. I was particularly happy as it wasn’t a mountainous route. The course didn’t really suit me and all the world’s best riders were there but the race panned out well. The breaks went and I rode with them. I was active and went in the move with Vinokourov that went to the finish.
“I’m really happy to have got a medal – it’s a big boost to my confidence heading into the Vuelta, and also the World Championships which has a course which should suit me a lot more.”
As for his superb form over the course of the season – Uran puts an allergy-free run down as the biggest reason for an upturn in results.
“I don’t think I’ve improved as such in 2012 but last year I had a lot of problems with allergies which restricted me a lot. I had really good form but that set me back at various points and I wasn’t able to fully show what I can do. This year I’ve had less problems and I’ve been able to show my level. I’m hoping there’s more to come.”