Rigoberto Urán may be a three-time Grand Tour podium finisher, twice in the Giro d’Italia and once in the Tour de France, but for all his experience, or perhaps because of it, the EF Pro Cycling leader refused to make any predictions on Monday about how he sees his last week of the 2020 Tour de France unfolding.
For the last two weeks, in a steady upward curve, Urán has steadily worked his way through the general classification, culminating with a third-place position overall on Monday’s second rest day of the Tour, 1:34 down on race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
But on Monday the veteran Colombian, second overall and a stage winner in the 2017 Tour de France at Chambery, barely an hour’s drive from where Sunday’s stage finished, said he has no idea whether he can hold on to third in the six days racing to come.
“I don’t like anticipating events,” Urán told reporters. “Jumbo-Visma are very strong, Roglič is strong, there are some tough stages in the Alps to come and I have two hard rivals ahead of me. Let’s see where I am in Paris.”
“I’m doing what I can, going for things on the day by day and I’m feeling very ambitious. My legs are good, and I’m feeling well. But the overall level is very high, maybe because we’ve had such a long time without racing,” Urán observed.
Urán confirmed that he tends to race without a power meter or any kind of data, “at least up until the third week of a Grand Tour or if I’m in a time trial where it’s important.”
Given that Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) had insisted that his power numbers were the best in his career on Friday and then his implosion on Sunday, perhaps Urán’s refusal to be guided by his data is less surprising, even if his ‘confession’ was unusual enough to draw several follow-up questions from journalists in the conference.
“Lots of times I don’t bother having the power meter on my bike because it feels like an extra weight, and I have a good idea of how I should be racing, what level I’m at, from doing this year round. I go at my own pace,” Urán said.
Such is the widespread sensation among the media that, regardless of what his data says, Urán may well be hitting a glass ceiling if he wants to go any higher than third this year. Not one journalist asked Urán if he thought he could win the Tour de France, despite the relatively small gaps on GC.
On the other hand, given the intense scrutiny of any battle between Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Roglič in the coming week, perhaps the Colombian is also hoping that by giving away so little, he can float under the radar for a bit longer and, perhaps, deliver a last-minute surprise.
Urán was perhaps wise to keep any predictions to himself, given the Tour de France has become a race where the dominating force of the last decade, Ineos Grenadiers, have disappeared off the map in the GC battle and where, given we are in September not July and this is a COVID-19-era, post-lockdown Tour, this is no usual race by anyone’s standards.
For the moment, Urán represents Colombia’s best-placed hope of another podium finish in the Tour de France – the fifth in six years, given that his two compatriots Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Bernal are no longer major factors in the GC battle. And after so many top names have fallen by the wayside, at this point in the game, finishing third in Paris would certainly be no mean achievement in itself.