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Vuelta a Espana

Vaughters hopes Urán will postpone retirement following Vuelta a España stage win

'If Rigoberto decides to carry on then that means Cavendish is a no-go for us' says American team boss.

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Rigoberto Urán rolled back the years to take his first grand tour stage since 2017 at the Vuelta a España on Wednesday, with the 35-year-old veteran winning from the break at Monasterio de Tentudía.

The Colombian had to do it the hard way, reeling in a number of late attacks before powering to the line with around 300m to go on the uphill finish and holding off a late challenge from Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ).

The win could reignite Uran’s desire to extend his contract with EF Education-EasyPost with his current deal expiring at the end of the current campaign. Urán was determined to wait until after the Vuelta before confirming his long-term plans but team boss Jonathan Vaughters has kept a space on his roster in 2023 should the team’s talisman decide to race for another season.

Vaughters was obviously delighted with Urán’s win on stage 17, with the Colombian completing his grand tour set, and taking the team’s first win since Magnus Cort’s stage 10 victory at the Tour de France in July.

“The old fox got the best of the cubs. He never panicked, he just stayed there and made the right moves. He’s a smart rider. He’s not always the strongest out there but he’s super smart as a rider,” Vaughters told VeloNews from his home in Colorado.

“Rigo has been the anchorpoint for this team for years and years. He’s the mentor, the leader, and the foundation of the team. So to see him pull off a win like that, everyone is going to be happy. It’s awesome and such a morale boost. He wanted that too. He was taking that last 300m full on. That wasn’t the face of a 35-year-old rider. That was like a 20-year-old going for his first win.”

EF Education EasyPost has already made a number of high level signings this summer with Richard Carapaz set to join from Ineos Grenadiers at the start of 2023. Carapaz will have the backing of a number of experienced mountain domestiques, while Andrey Amador will also make the switch from Ineos to Vaughters’ Slipstream setup. Having Urán on the team next season would provide extra cover in grand tours, and give the veteran rider more of an opportunity to blossom as a road captain and mentor to the younger riders.

“Obviously we’re very open for him to continue but more so after today,” Vaughters said.

“I think Rigo has had a rough few years with really bad crashes and injuries. I think he wanted to prove to himself that he had a place in the peloton, and that he was a high caliber rider before he committed to continuing. I hope that after today he decides to continue, and if he does I’m sure I’ll be getting a call from his agent pretty soon.”

If Uran does decide to stay on Vaughters’ team it would effectively end any chance of Mark Cavendish joining the squad. Vaughters talked to the sprinter during the summer about a possible move to the team in 2023 but since then the talks stalled and Cavendish has been heavily linked with a switch to B&B Hotels.

“If Rigoberto decides to carry on then that means Cavendish is a no-go for us. I’ve not talked to Cavendish’s agent for a month, so I think it’s to be assumed he’s not coming here,” Vaughters said.