Rigoberto Urán’s hopes of a second Tour de France podium appear to be over after he lost almost two minutes on stage 17.
The Colombian has been in the top-three of the race since the first rest day, aiming to replicate his result from 2017 when he finished runner-up to Chris Froome.
But on the Col du Portet on a sometimes misty Wednesday, the EF Education – Nippo rider shed 1:49 to stage winner and race leader Tadej Pogačar, with Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz three and four seconds further back, respectively.
As a result, Urán has dropped from second to fourth and now faces a monumental battle to regain a place on the final podium.
While he could put up to a minute into Carapaz on Saturday’s 30.8km time trial, he is currently 94 seconds behind Carapaz, requiring him to attack and gain time on stage 18’s summit finish to Luz Ardiden.
That looks improbable given that he his elevation to second overall was thanks to him being steady and consistent rather than aggressive.
Moreover, his comments after stage 17 indicated that he doesn’t feel capable of moving back up: “I lacked a bit of strength,” he rued. “And I have lost two very important positions.”
His teammate Sergio Higuita led him to the line, and Urán conceded that were it not for his fellow Colombian, he would have slipped further down the top-10.
“He helped me a lot. Without him I would have lost double the time,” he admitted.
Urán, though, hasn’t ruled out fortunes reversing on the race’s final mountain stage. “We are going to continue fighting,” he vowed. “Tomorrow is another key day.”
Stage 18 sees the peloton tackle a short, 130km stage that finishes atop Luz Ardiden at 1,715m. The climb averages 7.4% over 13.3km.
Pogačar leads the race by 5:39 from Vingegaard, with stage 18 and stage 20’s time trial the only remaining opportunities to re-order the final standings.
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