Uran has Tour de France momentum
SPRINGS» Less than COLORADO three weeks away from his second-place finish at the 21-stage Tour de France, the red-hot Colombian Rigoberto Uran is coming into the Colorado Classic with something to prove.
“He has no intention of just riding around. He wants to win the race and he’s made that very clear,” said Jonathan Vaughters, the Colorado cycling legend who serves as boss for the scrappy, Boulder-based Cannondale-Drapac team that has elevated Uran as its primary weapon against World Tour teams with much deeper pockets. “We are showing up to help him win. The team is there to back him up.”
Few professional cyclists have a story like the 30-year-old Uran, who is known in the pro cycling circle as “Rigo.” He grew up poor in northwest Colombia. At age 14, his father was gunned down just outside his hometown. Turning pro at age 16, with permission from his mom, he quickly rose to regional and national prominence. In 2011, he joined the U.K.’s heavyhitting Team Sky, riding largely in support of superstars such as Chris Froome. The next year he won an Olympic silver medal for Colombia in the London Games road race. Last year he joined Cannondale-Drapac — known as the Argyle Armada — as the team’s big gun and he is now one of the most popular athletes in Colombia, with hundreds of thousands of fans hanging on his social media posts. His profile only grew as he emerged as a contender in last month’s Tour de France.
Despite his success, everyone around Uran talks about his unwavering work ethic. He didn’t go home after the Tour de France, opting instead to pedal in Boulder and acclimate for the Colorado Classic.
“Rigo is a hard man. Never complains. Always gets the job done. Rarely quits a race. Injured, sick, whatever; he doesn’t quit,” Vaughters said.
His teammate, Colorado cycling scion Taylor Phinney, raced his first Tour de France last month in support of Uran.
“Having Rigo do so well, it was almost easy for us as a team to rally around him,” Phinney said.
Phinney also said he came to Colorado to win for Cannondale-Drapac.
“I’m definitely here to put my hands in the air and as a team we are focused on trying to win this thing,” said Phinney, who returned from a devastating crash in 2014 to win the opening stage of the USA Pro Challenge in Steamboat Springs in 2015.
Phinney, who Vaughters said is climbing better than he ever has before, is going to be watching the race’s breakaways closely, especially on stage 2’s 10 grueling climbs up Breckenridge’s Moonstone Road. With small teams of only six members and wide roads, he will be pushing and pulling Cannondale-Drapac to win the overall title at the inaugural Colorado Classic.
“I think this is going to be a race that will see a lot of aggression being rewarded,” said Phinney, the son of Boulder cycling royalty Davis and Connie Phinney. “We will do what we need to do. We will see how (Thursday), or most importantly, Friday, goes. Beyond that, we will see.”
It’s not like Uran is alone in his drive to win. He’s got hefty competition. BMC Racing Team has a history of success in Colorado, putting an athlete on the podium of the USA Pro Challenge in 2013, 2014 and 2015. BMC’s Brent Bookwalter was in the yellow jersey in 2015 when he faltered on Breckenridge’s Moonstone Road, opening the door for his teammate Rohan Dennis, who won the stage and went on to win the final running of the Pro Challenge.
“Not my favorite road,” Bookwalter said. “I feel like I have unfinished business on that climb.”
Uran said the tighter field of the Colorado Classic — half the size of the Tour de France — and the small teams means the stages are going to be “super fast.”
“And they are going to be hard to control,” he said through a translator. “I’m looking forward to Stage 2 but … it’s going to be hard to control the race.”
Uran said his fight to pedal out of poverty has contributed to his renowned work ethic. But his zeal for pedaling plays a larger role in his success.
“It doesn’t really matter if you are rich or you are poor. You have to love your bicycle and you have to love cycling and that is the most important thing,” he said. “You have to be persistent every day because otherwise you will never make it to the Tour de France. It is the passion for cycling that motivates me to succeed and be where I am right now and the person I am right now.”
About the race
Sixteen men’s and 15w omen’s teams will participate in the fourday event ,w hich brings world-class bicycl era cin gb ack to Colorado after the demise of the USA Pro Challenge ,w hich was held from 2011-15. The men will race 313 mil eso ver fou rda ys with 21,587 feet of climbin g.T he women will race 70.4 mil eso v ert w oda ys while climbing 5,890 feet .I n addition to the overall winners (called “general classification”), competitions within the race include honors for most aggressiv er iders ,b est Colorado riders ,ki ng and queen of the mountain, sprint leaders and best young riders.
Colorad oS prings Circuit races, beginnin ga nd endin gi nd owntown Colorad oS prings while incorporating the Garden of the God sa nd Ridge Road. The women will race 38.4 miles (two laps) with 2,230 feet of climbing ,b eginnin gat 10 a.m. a ndf inishin gata bout 11:35 a.m. The men will race 93.5 miles (six laps )f rom 1:10 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. with 5,93 4f eet of climbing. Bes tpl ace to watch: Garden of the Gods.
Breckenridge circuit races, beginnin ga nd endin gi nd owntown Breckenridge while incorporatin ga notoriously brutal ascen ton Moonstone Road and a steep descen ti nI llinois Gulch. The women will race 32 miles (fiv ela ps) from 11 a.m. until about 12:2 5p .m. with 3,660 feet of climbing. The me nf ollow from 2 p.m. to 4:40 p.m., racin g6 4 miles (1 0la ps) with 7,320 feet of climbing.
Bes tpl ace to watch: Moonstone Road.
Denver to Peak to Peak Highway (out a ndb ack ),b eginnin ga nd endin gi n the RiNo district while incorporating the Peak to Peak Highway, Gap Road and Golden Gate Canyon. The men will be racing 81 miles with 6,733 feet of climbing ,b eginnin gat 1:30 p.m. a ndf inishin gat 4:40 p.m.
Bes tpl aces to watch: Golden Gate Canyon, Maple Grove Park i nW heat Ridge.
Denver City Circuit with men racing 74.6 miles (1 0la ps ),b eginnin gat 12:20 p.m. and endin gat3 p.m., startin ga ndf inishin gi n the RiNo district and incorporating City Park. Bes tpl aces to watch: City Park and along Larimer or Walnut streets between 26th and 35 tha venues.
Rigoberto Uran sprints to the finish during Stage 20 of the Tour de France in Marseille on July 22.