This past Friday marked the beginning of the 99th edition of the Giro d’Italia, the 21-stage road race to Turin that spans thousands of kilometers, the epic event that makes up one of three rides (along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España) in the sport’s prestigious Grand Tours circuit.
For Colombian cyclist Rigoberto Urán, the Giro represents another shot at glory after failing to reproduce the successes of 2013 and 2014, when he was crowned the competition’s runner-up behind compatriot Nairo Quintana.
“This is my big opportunity to win the Giro d’Italia,” the 29-year-old told BBC.
Urán is a member of Colombian cycling’s “new boom.” Currently riding for the Cannondale mark, he’ll be surrounded by the likes of 2015 Giro stage winner Davide Formolo and Ramunas Navardauskas over the next three weeks in Italy.
— Rigoberto Urán ЯU (@UranRigoberto) May 5, 2016
“You always want to win the Giro,” he said with determination. When asked about any pressure he might feel in this pursuit, he explained, “Of course I feel the pressure, but it’s a race I know well, in which I’ve been on the podium twice. Since last year, I knew that I was going to be in it and I’ve prepared myself accordingly. I know the routes well, the climbs. I think we have a team that can win.”
“The competition is going to be tough, but I think that you have to believe in what you have as a team, because that will be [where your strength comes from] during the race,” he went on.
In stark contrast to previous seasons, Urán decided to forgo travel to his native Colombia, where he normally prepares in the mountains, a choice that could play into his success this spring.
“Before starting the season I liked to train in Colombia, be with my family, in my country. But the move really affected me, and my body had to adjust to the time change. We believed – my team and my family – that it would be better to stay in Europe to prepare. It’s been difficult, but I think it’s been a good decision.”
Quintana – a fierce competitor with Team Movistar – will be Urán’s teammate in Rio this summer. Urán secured silver in the men’s road race at London 2012. When asked about taking gold in Rio – his second major meta – he stated the following:
“I’ve said that my two objectives this year are the Giro d’Italia and the Olympics. This time we are going to be five Colombians in the race: Nairo, Esteban Chávez, Sergio Henao, and one other who has yet to be determined. It’s a very powerful team. In 2012, we were three and we achieved a great result. On top of this, I already saw the route and it favors us, so I hope that we can end up with a gold medal.”