Tejay van Garderen: Rigoberto Urán can still win the Tour de France

American Tejay van Garderen is confident that teammate Rigoberto Urán can score a top finish at the Tour de France.

Photo: Getty Images

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SARRAN, France (VN) — The 2020 Tour de France is still wide open as it pedals toward its next major challenges this weekend.

With eight riders still within one minute of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) going into the steep uphill finale Friday at Puy-Mary, everyone agrees the race is too close to call.

There’s one name following the right wheels: EF Pro Cycling’s Rigoberto Urán. The Colombian veteran is placed quietly in sixth place, just 32 seconds adrift.

American Tejay van Garderen believes Urán is in line for a run for yellow in the second half of the race.

“Everything is still wide open,” van Garderen said before Thursday’s stage. “Just because you see a lot of Jumbo-Visma jerseys at the front, 30 seconds is not so dominating. I think Rigo still has a chance to win this Tour.”

EF Pro Cycling has kept Urán in contention throughout the first half of the race. The cagey veteran knows how to manage a grand tour, and the team is rallying around him for a bid for the podium. It’s been just three years since Urán had the ride of his life and won a stage and finished second overall at the 2017 Tour.

“He is so calm. Nothing stresses him,” van Garderen said. “That’s the perfect thing from a leader. He does not panic in a stressful situation. We’re ready to take the fight into the mountains and on to Paris.”

Urán came into the race as the veteran cog of the team’s ‘three-headed monster’ of Colombian riders alongside Daniel Martínez and Sergio Higuita. EF’s three-pronged run at the GC quickly became a two-man operation after Martínez crashed on stage 2 and lost more than two minutes.

Then, Urán became the squad’s best option after Higuita lost time in the Pyrenees. Urán, meanwhile, has ridden a cool and calculated race. He made the front group on stage 8, and even bridged up to leaders Nairo Quintana, Primož Roglič, and Tadej Pogačar at the base of the Col de Peyresourde.

Then, on the stage 9 ascent of the Col de Marie-Blanque, Urán made the second group of climbers on the road alongside Quintana and Romain Bardet. He lost just 11 seconds to the group, keeping himself in contention for the overall.

“I lost a bit of time, around 11 seconds, but for a stage in the Pyrenees that’s not a huge amount,” Urán said after the performance. “I think that we finish the first week feeling relatively happy, the sensations are there and as always we’re just taking it day by day.”

Despite EF’s three-headed attack the team has been content to let Dutch squad Jumbo-Visma set the pace throughout the race. Van Garderen said having Jumbo-Visma in the driver’s seat is a benefit for EF, who can protect Urán in the slipstream heading toward the decisive third week.

“They can do the work for everyone else, they can work in the wind all day, and we can sit behind,” he said. “In the third week, it’s less about the team and more abut who has the best rider. We are confident in our leader.”

Van Garderen, who twice finished fifth in the Tour before slotting into a worker role at EF, said Urán exudes quiet confidence that rubs off on everyone inside the EF bus.

“Rigo is up there, and we are ready to support him,” van Garderen said before pedaling off to the start of the stage.

“Roglič looks good, but the third week is always the test in a grand tour,” he said. “We haven’t seen any cracks, but when you get to the top level, you don’t see those cracks until the third week of racing.”

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