With all eyes on Ineos and Jumbo-Visma, the Tour could be set up for a spoiler. And no team presents themselves as much as possible candidate as EF Pro Cycling.
Loaded with a mix of experience and youthful exuberance, the U.S.-registered team brings a trio of Colombia riders poised to light up the Tour.
“We are not one leader here, we are all leaders,” Urán said. “We can all go well, and if one of us is in a good position, we will support them. It’s a race that will be very special, atypical, and very different.”
Urán has the experience, finishing six Tours, including second in 2017. Martínez is back for his second start, while Higuita is a rookie.
All three have the potential to blow up the race. With other teams carrying the responsibility of the race, EF Pro Cycling can follow the wheels, and look for openings.
“Jumbo-Visma and Ineos will be controlling the race, so that could help us,” Martínez said. “It’s a more open Tour. There are some riders who have raced a lot, others who’ve barely raced at all. It could be an unpredictable Tour. All that plays in our favor.”
Martínez is riding a wave of confidence after winning the Critérium du Dauphiné, while Higuita, recovering from a crash there, is an explosive climber who will be on the hunt for a stage win. Urán, who admitted he doesn’t know what his form will be like, will be following wheels and looking for openings.
“That win at the Dauphiné gives a confidence boost coming into the Tour,” Martínez said. “We don’t know what will happen here at the Tour. We are motivated to perform as well as we can.”
Tejay van Garderen is back for his ninth Tour, but is taking on a mentor role for the likes of Neilson Powless and Hugh Carthy, two other Tour rookies. Jens Keukeleire and Alberto Bettiol round out the team.
Although Egan Bernal returns as Colombia’s first Tour winner, all eyes will be on the Colombian climbers. The three are funny, brash, and media darlings, especially Urán, who has built a rock star-like following back home.
“We don’t know if the Tour will make it to Paris, but we are ready to fight every day,” Urán said. “I’m content to be here at the Tour after finishing the season in the hospital at the end of last season. We’re working hard to do a good Tour. It’s important to work together, and if we do that, we can take something out of this Tour.”