Uran dropped from second to third overall behind yellow jersey Chris Froome (Sky) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) after Stage 18 last night where the pair marginally gapped him on the Izoard summit finish.
Next to Froome, however, the Colombian climber is the best time trialist from the top five of general classification and could stand to improve his position in Saturday’s penultimate stage against the clock.
“He’s only 29 seconds behind me so I imagine he will be the guy to look out for, for me, in Marseille,” Froome said.
Uran was never advertised as a title contender, nor overtly focused on the race this season.
Cannondale-Drapac sports director Charly Wegelius knew the course of the 104th edition would suit the 30-year-old who, despite that, did little recon and had an early season designed around making a concerted effort in the Ardennes Classics.
“We focused on him from the end of the Giro last year on one-day races because we think he has qualities that are under exploited in one-day races,” Wegelius said.
“We started with the Olympics and Canada, where he was very good, and third in Lombardia. The first part of the season was focused around the Ardennes Classics. Unfortunately, he got sick in Pais Vasco and that was a bit of a non-starter, so we just reset after the classics. But he hasn’t done any particular recon or anything like that.”
Uran has plenty of experience racing at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, but less so at the Tour. He has made four career appearances at the Tour de France at with his previous best result being 23rd in 2011.
“He has the pedigree for racing GC and three-week races. If you look into his history, you can see that over the past years there has always been a small hiccup, which perhaps didn’t get much attention, that’s derailed him. But he has always been right on message," Wegelius said.
There hasn’t been any apparent hiccup here. Uran won stage nine and has kept with the title contenders throughout the Tour, calling on a team that wasn’t selected exclusively for him. In the Alps today, he followed the moves of rivals but never really made any outright attack himself.
“As a rider, he has a really good skill of just completely disregarding anything that isn’t relevant. He doesn’t give any attention to things that don’t affect his performance. As a professional, he just goes straight to what is important,” Wegelius said.
“He’s extremely charismatic without bashing his hand on the table or anything. The riders just naturally follow him, so if they go out of the hotel and get to the end of the road and Rigoberto turns left, they all just go left. That’s inside him.”