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Uran’s 2016 goals: Giro pink, Olympic gold

Rigoberto Urán said he’s feeling good in his new Cannondale jersey, and that renewed confidence extends to the Giro d’Italia.

Twice second overall at the Giro, the 29-year-old Colombian is putting the Italian grand tour in the crosshairs in 2016. Making his season debut this week at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Urán said the Giro is the top goal for the first half of the season.

“It’s time to win the Giro,” Urán said in an interview. “The Giro and the Olympic Games are the two big objectives of the year. I completely believe I can return to the Giro podium. That’s what we are all working for, and I am confident I can do it.”

Urán will be one of the top protagonists for the Giro, which is slowly seeing its list of favorites fill out. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Jean-Christophe Péraud and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale), Esteban Chaves (Orica – GreenEdge), Mikel Landa (Sky), 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal (Trek – Segafredo), and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) will make the fight for the Giro’s final podium perhaps the deepest in years.

After three years with Sky and two with Etixx – Quick-Step, Urán is one of the top new arrivals at Cannondale for 2016. Despite being only 29, Urán has been a professional since 2006 and will give the young, relatively inexperienced Cannondale squad some veteran depth in any race he starts.

“I am hoping that this year is totally different from 2015, that it’s a good season,” he said. “I am happy with the team. Everything is going really well, better than what was expected.”

Urán will lead the team in a heavy spring racing calendar ahead of the Giro (May 6-29) that also includes Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya, and the Ardennes classics. After the Giro, he will skip the Tour de France, with a likely start in the Tour of Poland before the Olympics, where he hopes to finish one better than his second place to Alexander Vinokourov in London 2012.

“I have good sensations, and we’ve made a good preparation, and we’re working well,” Urán said. “I’ve been training at home, at nearly 2,500 meters (8,250 feet), with good temperatures. That’s the best type of training you can do.”

For the Algarve race, Urán is quietly optimistic he can make a solid showing. After Wednesday’s opener, Thursday’s second stage features a punchy, uphill finale ideal for his characteristics, while Saturday’s time trial and Sunday’s mountain-top finish will decide the GC.

“I am expecting a lot. Every day I feel better,” he said. “It’s a good race to make a test, and to know how the preparation is going, because there is a quality field here at a high level.”