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IMOLA, Italy (VN) — Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick-Step) has been playing dodgeball during this entire Giro d’Italia.
The 28-year-old Colombian has been jumping left and bouncing right to avoid being knocked out of the Giro before the hard part even begins.
Urán started the Giro with a chest cold that turned into bronchitis. After starting to finally feel good again this week, Urán clipped a wheel on the Ferrari racetrack Wednesday, and slammed onto his left shoulder, elbow, and knee. He managed to fight back to the front group Wednesday, and finished with the favorites Thursday, to keep his podium hopes alive.
Can one big swing of the bat in Saturday’s time trial turn around Urán’s Giro fortunes? Etixx-Quick-Step is hoping so.
“We believe Rigoberto can still win the time trial, but his crash Wednesday comes at a bad moment,” team manager Patrick Lefevere told VeloNews. “He won on a similar course last year [stage 12], and the course Saturday is like that one. Under normal conditions, he would have a good chance to win.”
Nothing’s been “normal” about Urán’s Giro so far, but he’s been trying to stay in podium contention. He will start Friday’s flat stage, which favors a mass gallop, at sixth overall, 2:19 back.
Even if he’s hobbled with a banged-up shoulder, elbow and knee, Urán is hoping to revive his Giro podium hopes in the 59.4km time trial Saturday. He scouted the route earlier this season, and knows it’s his best chance to bounce back into the frame.
“It’s hardly ideal to crash before the time trial,” Urán said of his spill Wednesday. “We’ll see how I recover before Saturday. Normally, the course would be good for me, but this Giro hasn’t gone so well for me at all.”
Dodging bullets is hardly the way Urán wanted to come into this Giro. Riding in a contract year, Urán wanted a big result, perhaps even the pink jersey, to establish himself as one of the peloton’s major stars.
Instead, he’s been struggling with a chest cold and now a crash. Lefevere is hoping things turn their way in the final week.
“Rigoberto was very strong at Tour de Romandie, but it was cold and rainy the last days, he got something in his chest. He couldn’t shake it before the Giro, and it even got worse,” Lefevere said. “He is an experienced rider. He knows how to race a grand tour. That will count for a lot in the final week.”
With Contador looking untouchable for pink, the fight for the final two podium spots will take shape over this weekend. Saturday’s time trial should see Urán and Richie Porte (Sky), 12th at 3:18 back, spring back into the top five.
Sunday’s mountaintop finale to Madonna di Campiglio, the first true major mountain stage of this year’s Giro, will further shake up the GC.
The peloton will have a new hierarchy going into Monday’s second and final rest day.
“I was hoping to be fighting for the overall victory in this Giro, but things haven’t gone my way so far,” Urán said earlier this week. “We’ll see how things shake out. Everything will be decided in the final week, like in any Giro.”
Maybe the scrappy Urán can bump and grind his way all the way to the podium in Milano. His Giro fate depends on Saturday’s time trial.