Vuelta a Espana
(Photo by Maximiliano Blanco/Getty Images)

Urán leads strong EF team with eye on podium at Vuelta

Three Americans will line up Saturday, as EF Education First brings a well-rounded squad to the year's final grand tour.

Rigoberto Urán captains an ambitious EF Education First squad with firepower for all terrain at the Vuelta a España, August 24-September 15.

The popular Colombian wants to complete his grand tour podium set, and is eyeing a top-3 at the Vuelta to complement his second-place podium spots at the Giro d’Italia in 2013 and 2014, and Tour de France in 2017.

A motivated Urán is backed by a deep squad with solid support in the hills and the flats. The U.S.-registered team also sees Americans Tejay van Garderen, Lawson Craddock and Logan Owen among its eight starters.

“I have won stages here but never been on the podium. That’s a huge motivation going into it,” Urán said Monday. “This year has been a bit of an unusual year. I’ve had very few days of racing, and I felt good at the Tour, so I see a great opportunity here at the Vuelta, especially with the strong team we have racing.”

Urán carries big ambitions into the Vuelta. He crashed early in 2019, yet recovered to hit seventh overall at the Tour, his second best result at the race in France, though a bit below the bar he set coming into the season. The 32-year-old will see top support in the mountains from Daniel Martinez, who missed the Tour with an injury, Hugh Carthy, and Sergio Higuita, a talented 22-year-old climbing prospect making his grand tour debut. Mitch Docker will be all-round road captain.

“Rigo is really motivated, he’s missing a podium place at the Vuelta, he’s been on the podium at the Tour de France and at the Giro d’Italia, and I know he would really like to be on the podium in Madrid for the Vuelta,” said sport director Juanma Garate. “He knows that this year is a great opportunity for him, to not only aim for the podium, but to also win a stage in the race, too.”

Craddock, grand-tour debutant Owen, and van Garderen round out the squad to provide firepower for Saturday’s opening team time trial and help Urán in all aspects of the race. Van Garderen, who crashed out of the Tour in July, is hoping to have a trouble-free ride to Madrid.

“Tejay is motivated, he is going well after his crash at the Tour de France, he’s talked to us and said that he’s feeling ready to race again,” Garate said. “I would really like to see a solid race for Tejay, him getting from stage one to stage 21 without any trouble, being competitive and at the top of his game. I want to see him get to stage 21, calm and having had a great race.”