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Rigoberto Urán has grown tired of being second. Twice a runner-up at the Giro d’Italia and a silver medalist in the 2012 London Olympics road race, the 29-year-old Colombian is plotting an ambitious 2016 season.
The goal is to step on the top spot of the podium. He’s taking aim at the races he knows he can win.
“My dream season? To win the Giro and the gold medal in Rio,” Urán told VeloNews. “I’ve been close before, and this year, both races are perfect for me. That’s what we’re working for.”
Urán switched from Etixx – Quick-Step to Cannondale for 2016 in large part because he knew he needed more support in the mountains. Cannondale is overflowing with young, talented climbers, and Urán will have support from riders like Davide Formolo, Joe Dombrowski, and Michael Woods deep in the Dolomites, where he was often left to his own devices at Etixx and Sky.
“I was in a good place in Etixx, but it lacked a little bit in the mountains,” Urán said. “On the flats and the team time trial, they were strong. It’s a team that had a strong tradition in the classics. Last year wasn’t my best Giro, to be fair, but I didn’t see a lot of support in the deep mountains. Here, I will surely get that help I need in the high mountains.”
In 2013, Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro in dominant fashion, but the following year, Urán was caught out in the fiasco over the snow-bound Stelvio. Eventual winner Nairo Quintana of Movistar bounded clear over the snowy summit while Urán, believing the descent was neutralized, stopped to put on more clothing to cover up his pink jersey. Quintana claimed the maglia rosa at the finish line and Urán took second once again. Surprisingly, he said he doesn’t hold a grudge against his compatriot.
“For me, the past is the past. I don’t waste time thinking about what could have happened, should I have won the Giro,” Urán said of the Stelvio debacle. “For me, what happened is what happened, and I ended up second. And now we are thinking about the Giro of 2016.”
After the Giro, the Olympic Games will be waiting like a piece of ripe fruit. A mountainous route favors Urán much more than the sprinter-friendly route of London four years ago. He’s expecting even more in Brazil, where he knows he will be a favorite for gold.
“To be in the Olympics is already special, and to reach that podium, it’s like a climber winning the final sprint in Paris at the Tour de France,” Urán said. “It was huge for me and for Colombia to medal in London. It was Colombia’s first road racing Olympic medal in history.”
Urán races this week at the Tour de Romandie, where he will have a chance to test his racing legs before the Giro. A strong performance will bolster his odds ahead of the pre-Giro favorites such as Astana’s Nibali, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, and Sky’s Mikel Landa. Urán said the team is ready to deliver.
“Everything is going well in Cannondale. Everyone knows their role, and we have big expectations for the season,” he said. “I am here for the big tours. The most important thing is to respond.”