CHERASCO, Italy (VN) — The departure of Bradley Wiggins from the Giro d’Italia on Friday eliminates any chance of crisis within the ranks at Sky.
Now it’s obvious for whom the British powerhouse will be riding: Rigoberto Urán.
The Colombian is poised in third overall, at 2:04, and will now have the green light to go for it without having to look over his shoulder.
With two decisive climbing stages looming in the Alps, Urán arrived at the finish line in Cherasco at the end of the Giro’s longest stage looking ready for what lies ahead.
“It was too bad that Bradley is gone, now we have to think about a different way of making the race,” Urán said. “We will take it day by day. We have a very strong team for the climbs. We will see happens and take aim for the final podium.”
Urán knows he has to attack to gain time not only on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who are both ahead of him on GC, but also to take time on riders nipping on his heels for the podium.
Urán needs to watch the GC from both sides. Three riders — Robert Gesink (Blanco), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), and Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) — are within one minute of the podium.
“Nibali and Evans are looking very strong. There are others, too” Urán continued. “If I have the legs now, I will attack. It’s always important to take gains when you can.”
Sky also has Sergio Henao lurking near the top 10, sitting quietly in 11th, 5:06 back. Though Henao struggled up the finish climb at Montasio, where Urán won on Tuesday, he could rebound to hunt for a stage and play the wildcard, something Urán and Sky can use to their advantage.
Danny Pate told VeloNews that the rest of the team has already put the disappointment of losing Wiggins behind them. Pate said the squad is ready to rally around Urán in his bid for the podium.
“’Rigo’s’ riding really strong. He’s in third place and we still have Sergio. As a whole, we have a very strong climbing squad, and we’re looking forward to the mountain stages, so long as the snow doesn’t cancel them,” Pate told VeloNews. “As a whole, we’re happy with the position we’re in with those guys. We’re ready to support them just as we would if Brad were still here. It’s too bad about Brad, but he was sick. Now we have other goals. We are just as excited about [Urán] as well.”
Pate said the team believes that Urán is in ideal position to challenge for the podium.
The Colombian said he’s in the best form of his career. And now that Wiggins is out of the picture, he can enjoy unfettered support from the entire team.
Sky brings one of the best climbing squads to the Giro and has engines like Pate and Christian Knees to work on the flats and transition stages. Riders such as Xavier Zandio and Davide Cataldo, who were struggling through the rain and cold, are on the mend just in time to help Urán over a rough menu of mountain stages in the race’s final week.
“The podium is realistic. The guys in front have to watch out or more than the podium is realistic,” Pate continued. “’Rigo’ can almost do anything. He can climb with the best. We saw the other day he rode away from everyone. They know he’s dangerous, but he’s a real threat.”
When asked who looked stronger, Nibali or Evans, Pate laughed, “I don’t ride next to them very often, so I am not sure.”