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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Dani Moreno will live in the shadows throughout much of 2018. In the shadow, that is, of Rigoberto Urán.
The veteran Spaniard is a key signing for EF Education First-Drapac coming into 2018, and his marching orders will be giving Urán an extra wheel deep in the mountains.
“Last year, Rigo was incredible in the Tour, and he could finally show the caliber of rider he is during the most important race of the year,” Moreno said at the Santos Tour Down Under. “So this year, I think he could even be better.”
Last year, Urán enjoyed a breaking out party during the Tour de France. The colorful Colombian won a stage, finished second in two others, and rode into Paris second overall. His gap of 54 seconds to winner Chris Froome was the narrowest in the Sky captain’s four yellow jersey victories.
That performance has EF-Drapac dreaming big for 2018.
Team management began talking to Moreno last fall to bring some extra experience and some solid climbing legs to what will be a ramped-up Tour effort in 2018.
The team narrowly escaped disaster last fall but emerged with new title sponsor Education First. Moreno is the most veteran among nine new arrivals for the 2018 squad centered around Urán, classics veteran Sep Vanmarcke, and emerging star Michael Woods.
“We started to talk during the Vuelta about what I could bring to the team,” Moreno said. “For me, the idea is to help Rigo and to be with him throughout all of his races during the calendar. I hope to help go as far as possible.”
Moreno’s won such races as Flèche Wallonne, the Vuelta a Burgos, three stages at the Vuelta a España, and two stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
At age 36, he knows his place. Earlier in his career, he gladly worked for former teammate Joaquim Rodríguez at Katusha. His latest challenge means trying to help Urán become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France as well as helping guide Woods through the Ardennes classics.
“Rigo has so much experience, but he’s still young. He hasn’t tapped out his potential yet,” Moreno said. “I also hope to have my opportunities a few times along the year, but when it comes time to work, we’ll work for the team. I expect it to be a bit like it was on Katusha, and I was able to take advantage of the opportunities from time to time when I had them.”
So far, Moreno said he’s fitting in fine with new American teammates. A pro since 2004, this is Moreno’s sixth team (riding twice for the Movistar franchise), and he said there are few differences once the rubber hits the road.
“The truth is today there are not that many differences between the WorldTour teams. Of course, there are cultural details,” he said. “Once you’re on the road and doing the work, it’s the same as any team.”