There are many different riders in the professional cycling peloton—from the young upstarts to the veterans who know the ropes. Rigoberto Urán Urán (for the sake of convenience we leave the second ‘Urán’ out) is a rider who already has a whole cycling career behind him, but is only 31 years old. On paper, he is in his prime.
Experienced it all
Rigoberto Urán started his career in 2006, but only started getting noticed in 2007. During this year, at the age of 20, he managed to win the eighth stage in the Tour of Switzerland and eventually finished in the top ten. After that he had a golden future in front of him. He was offered a contract with the Spanish Caisse d’Espargne, the forerunner of the current Movistar team, where he developed his skills by the side of Alejandro Valverde.
In the three years that he raced for Caisse d’Espargne, Urán rode better in the smaller stage-races of about a week in length. He ranked in the top ten in races like the Tour of Catalonia, the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour de Romandie—he also managed to reach the podium with a third place in the classic Tour of Lombardy.
After all of this success, Urán decided to try his luck at Team Sky, where he ended up in 2011. At that time he was only 24, but he was already competing with the absolute best. Urán had future classification ambitions and became an important domestique for Bradley Wiggins. In 2012, he was allowed to show what he could do in the Giro for himself. He finished 7th in the general classification, with Ryder Hesjedal taking the win. Urán did secure the win of the youth classification that year, however.
2012 was also the year of the Olympic Games in London. Just before the finish of the men’s individual road race of that year, Urán sped ahead with Aleksandr Vinokourov from the peloton which Mark Cavendish was favourited to lead. In a sprint finish ,Urán made the capital mistake of looking over his left shoulder; Vinokourov was on his right. Urán was completely surprised when he was ultimately overtaken, and had to settle for the silver. He is probably still proud of it though—not many riders can say they’ve received an Olympic medal.
Now we jump to 2013, where Urán again raced the Giro. This time he was the right hand to Wiggins, who was going for the win. Unfortunately, Wiggins fell behind and had to give up later due to health problems. That cleared the way for Urán to show what he was capable of and he eventually ended up in second place, behind Nibali. This was his real breakthrough and it paved the way to his golden future.
The following year Uran again participated in the Giro. This time wearing Team Quickstep’s colours, he was ready to take his chances. He took hold of the pink leader’s jersey, but he struggled during the dangerous descent of Stelvio, due to the weather. It was here that Nario Quintana opened up an attack. The attack gave Urán a setback that he could no longer bridge. Quickstep’s management was furious, but Urán dealt with it and seemed happy with his second place.
That was the only good result of that year, and Urán had a lot of injuries. The following year he could not match his previous performances, but he did well in the smaller races and managed to win the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec 2015—his first victory in a one-day classic.
Urán has been riding for Cannondale since 2016. The team has given him a lot of freedom to choose his races, and he seems to have been able to pay back that trust. In 2017, Urán rode a solid Tour de France for the first time in his life. He placed second behind Chris Froome and was allowed to take a place on the podium in Paris.
This year, Urán wanted to repeat his success in the Tour, but he abandoned the race after a crash. In the upcoming Vuelta he wants to try to achieve a good overall ranking. And at his age, 31, he is well poised to do that.