The Colombian, racing to overtake Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) for second place blasted towards the famous Stade Velodrome stadium and over-powered through a right-hand bend. He slammed against the barriers, but kept upright.
The technical 22.5-kilometer course through Marseille’s city streets and up to the Notre-Dame basilica saw Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) and Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) hit the deck. Urán’s skills saved his Tour started the parties in Medellín and the rest of Colombia.
“It has been a very good Tour for me, I have won a stage, but finishing second is the most important moment of my career,” Urán said.
“Colombia was accustomed to Nairo Quintana making the podium, and with me, its back on the podium. For the country is very important and shows the talent pool we have in Colombia. There are many more cyclists coming through.”
Urán sits second at 54 seconds behind Chris Froome (Sky). Bardet is third at 2:20 and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) placed 12th at 15:28.
Quintana twice finished second to Chris Froome and last year placed third. In this year’s Giro d’Italia, he placed second to Tom Dumoulin. However, in the Tour de France this July, he was not at his best.
It left the door open for a surprise Urán performance. Not many had mentioned him as a Tour de France favourite when the race left Düsseldorf on a rain-soaked day three weeks ago. Few had even mentioned his name and grand tours in the same sentence since he rode back to back second places in the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Giro d’Italia.
After that second place with team Sky in 2013, he signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but he went silent following his Barolo time trail win and second place in 2014.
“I’ve always been the same, although sometimes I’ve had some health problems, but when ride to a podium spot and then you finish fifth or sixth, it feels like you’ve lost everything. But this time, I stayed healthy over the three weeks and I was able to ride with the best.”
[pullquote align=“left” attrib=”Rigoberto Urán”]”When ride to a podium spot and then you finish fifth or sixth, it feels like you’ve lost everything.”[/pullquote]
Urán blasted back into shotgun for the Paris stage tomorrow, where the overall classification typically stays as is while the sprinters go for the Champs-Élysées win. Even with his hiccup in Marseille, he was able to clock a time 31 seconds behind winner Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) and 25 seconds off of Froome.
While Urán pushed for second, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and France’s hopes faded. Bardet suffered and almost slipped off the podium. He saved it by one second over Mikel Landa (Sky) in third.
“Am I surprised by Urán? No. He already finished on the Giro podium twice and he has great qualities for there week races,” Bardet said. “He had his own tactic and it paid off, he managed the best possible for the strategy he had.”
Bardet previously had been critical of Urán for not attacking and always following, only shooting ahead for bonus seconds at the end of the stages. What ever strategy he had, it worked for second place.
Jonathan Vaughters is seeking a new sponsor for his the team, but is unsure if he can keep Urán in the team for 2018. Astana and other teams are lining up to sign him.
“I have no idea if I will be able to beat Froome in the future,” Urán said. “This year, Sky had a very strong team and they made the difference in many stages. They controlled the Tour from start to finish.”