As the 2014 Giro d’Italia moves into its second phase following the conclusion of the first individual time trial, the race is set for a tough final week in which six out of the nine remaining days are staged in the mountainous areas of Northern Italy. The new leader of the race is Colombian Rigoberto Uran Uran who has yet to win any of the Grand Tours but who may yet be capable of improving upon his second position in Last year’s Giro.
Stage 12 on Thursday was an individual time trial over 41 km and was expected to be a pivotal moment in the race for the general classification. The course was rather hilly but the wet weather earlier in the day produced treacherous conditions on various stretches of the road surface.
It was also a course evidently suited to former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, who was overall leader by almost a minute, but Uran stole the headlines at the culmination of the stage with a winning time more than a minute ahead of second placed Diego Ulissi with Evans producing a late flourish to take third position.
Uran now assumes the leadership of the race with a gap of 37 seconds to Evans and this stage represented his first individual time trial victory in a major race. Often recognised as a decent back-up performer to the team leader, Uran moved from Team Sky to Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the end of the 2013 season and now appears to have been allocated the responsibility of trying to win his inaugural Grand Tour race.
In the 2013 edition of the Giro, Uran proved his prowess in the mountains once his team leader Bradley Wiggins had abandoned the race and the remaining contenders for the pink jersey face a difficult task in dislodging Uran from the overall lead. Third and fourth placed riders Rafal Majka and Domenico Pozzovivo are 1.52 and 2.32 adrift but it is fellow Colombian and ante-post favourite Nairo Quintana who must now display all his renowned climbing ability to overhaul his fellow countryman.
Quintana is now sixth at a gap of 3 minutes 29 seconds yet could be satisfied with a fair performance in the time trial especially as it is far from being his favourite discipline. A crash on stage six has already cost his some valuable time with a lingering cold not helping matters, but from Saturday onwards when the real mountain stages begin, the Colombian climber can be expected to feature more prominently at the head of the peleton.
Uran has already declared his intentions with his impressive form to date and now Evans, Quintana and the remaining leading contenders need to attack the wearer of the pink jersey in what should be an intriguing week of cycling.