With a just over month until the start of the Tour Colombia 2.1, which runs February 12-17 in the Antioquia region around Medellin, Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) has ramped up his training for the race that will be fought over the roads he’s used for training since he first started riding as a boy.
Urán is eager to get the 2019 season started after facing several disappointments in 2018, including having to abandon the Tour de France after struggling through several stages following a crash on the stage 9 cobbles to Roubaix. Urán was primed to defend his 2017 runner-up result in the French Grand Tour after winning a stage in the Tour de Slovenie and taking second overall in the June tune-up race, making the Tour abandon all the more painful.
Urán rebounded in August with sixth place at Clasica San Sebastian and seventh overall at the Vuelta a España. His final block of racing saw him make another podium with second at Giro dell’Emilia, then he added two more top 10 results at Italian one-days before going to China for the Gree-Tour of Guangxi, where he finished sixth overall.
Although he was unable to add another win after Slovenie, Urán’s end-of-the-season was considerably less stressful than the year before, when Jonathan Vaughters’ Slipstream program was in danger of folding because of sponsor troubles. In his off-season this year, Urán hosted several European riders – including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome of Team Sky – in Colombia for the Giro de Rigo. The 140km recreational ride drew thousands of participants and fans, as well as fellow Colombian pros Sergio Henao, Sebastian Henao, Egan Bernal, Alvaro Hodeg, Fernando Gaviria, Dani Martinez and Julian Cardonas.
The enthusiasm among the spectators at the Giro de Rigo was obvious, and it reinforced the impression of the cycling-mad country that was on display last year at the Colombia Oro y Paz, the precursor to this year’s Tour Colombia 2.1.
“We will have the best fans,” Urán said in an interview published on the race website. “This will be better than the Tour de France. The people of Colombia, and especially of Medellín, are very fond of cycling. They follow the Colombian cyclists a lot, and watching them compete up close, it will be the best.”
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