Sign up for our newsletter


Rigoberto Uran: 'When you don't get results, the only thing to do is wait and keep working'

Laura Meseguer
5 Dec 2017

Rigoberto Uran tells Cyclist about his second place at the Tour, and why kids today have no respect for their elders

Rigoberto Uran is regarded as one of the most popular riders in the peloton, thanks to his charm and the enjoyment he takes in everything he does. Until a few years ago he was the only representative of Colombian cycling at the top of the professional ranks, and now aged 30 he has reached the best shape of his life, taking second place behind Chris Froome at the 2017 Tour de France.

He takes time out from his racing commitments at the Criterium of Shangai by Le Tour de France to talk to Cyclist.

Cyclist: Has anything changed for you since you came second at this year’s Tour de France?

Rigoberto Urán: Nothing. Everything is still the same, though I have more interviews and media attention, that’s for sure.

It makes no difference whether I win or lose. Of course I’m responsible with my job, but when you do everything well, you take care of yourself, you train and work hard and things still don’t go the way you were expecting, you can’t get frustated, otherwise you won’t enjoy the competition.

I try to make it that a result or a race does not influence my happiness and does not personally affect me.

Cyc: Does it not affect you if don’t get good results?

RU: I had two years where I didn’t have many results. When this happens the only thing I can do is wait and keep working.

To be third in Volta a Catalunya is not the same than being fifth in the Giro d’Italia. Of course, it can be stressful but it's important that the results don’t affect me. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. If you win, you can’t relax.

This year after the Tour I kept competing the same as I’ve been doing over the last few years, with the same calendar and the same motivation.

With Colombia’s cycling fever, in August the president of our country and the mayor of Medellin were waiting to meet me, but I asked them to postpone it until November because I had to keep racing.

The teams sometimes don’t value a rider as much as they value his results. If a rider has a bad year, the team can’t wait to change his contract, and I think it shouldn’t be like this. You need to value him as a professional because everybody can have a bad year.

Cyc: Does your second place at the Tour give you an extra dose of confidence?

RU: When you have a good result you always gain some confidence and you always want more. A lot of people will say I’m old.

It’s true that this is my eleventh year as a professional rider but I have always lived very well. Every team I’ve been with has taken care of me.

I’m not tired yet, I’m a very good age, the perfect one for a professional cyclist, I would say. I hope to keep going five more years.

Cyc: How were those 15 days of uncertainty about the future of your team, Cannondale?

RU: When they called me I was training for the upcoming races in Canada. I had renewed my contract a week before at the Tour of Colorado. When I heard the news I spent five minutes in shock and I couldn’t even feel my feet.

What hurt me the most was to be in this situation after the great year the team had had. It’s very sad. I knew I wouldn’t have much problem finding another team, but I was worried for the more than 70 people from the team between riders and staff that would lose their jobs.

This would also affect the cycling market, driving down the salaries because there would be many cyclists in the market for just a few teams.

Cyc: Were you the main lure of the team to attract a sponsor?

RU: That’s why I prefered to wait 15 days before taking a decision. The team has been many years in professional cycling and they have always managed to find a new sponsor to continue at the highest level.

Fortunately they managed to find this sponsor, Education First. I feel bad for the teammates that have left the team because all together we were a good group, but they did well because there were no guarantees that the team would continue.

Cyc: Your former team Sky was one of the teams interested in signing you?

RU: Yes. I had a few offers on the table and Sky was one that I was close to returning to.

Cyc: Would you have lost your role as a leader at Team Sky?

RU: It depends on what would you like to do. If you want to race to win the Giro d’Italia there’s no problem [this interview was conducted before the announcement of Chris Froome’s participation at the Giro], but if you want to race the Tour de France you know where your place is.

With Education First-Drapac I’ve signed for three years and the idea is to race the Tour de France next year.

Cyc: Since your debut in 2006 you’ve been in six different teams with an average of two years in each of them. What do you look for in a team?

RU: The most important thing is to have my own space and that they don’t change the way I work, although I am adaptable. It’s important to feel comfortable and I’ve found that in every single team I’ve been with.

I’ve been always happy in the teams I’ve been in, but in order to keep growing you need to take opportunities as they come. It was a good decision because nowadays I’ve been teammate with half of the peloton.

Cyc: How much has cycling changed since you started?

RU: A lot. First of all, the respect inside the peloton is now lost. That internal code where everyone in the peloton has his status – nobody respects it anymore. In 2005 it was unthinkable to be in a place where you shouldn’t be or not to respect a big champion.

Young people now don’t want to take lessons from anybody. They arrive in the professional ranks with much more information than we used to have.

Many cycling schools work with power meters, carbon wheels, nutrition programmes… when they turn professional they are not surprised by anything because they’ve had everything since they were 14-years-old.

In Colombia this doesn’t happen. In the school they provide you with a simple bike, that’s it. The pure domestiques, like the ones I met in Caisse d'Epargne – Lastras, Zandio, Gutiérrez – they don’t exist anymore.

Now all the teams want riders who can work for a leader but who can also get some results during the season.

The problem is that in the moment they need to renew their contracts it’s more difficult to justify their job as a domestique if they haven’t had any good results.

This may be an extreme but look at Michal Kwiatkowski. He’s a former World Champion and this year’s winner of Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and Clásica de San Sebastián, and if he’d had freedom at the Tour de France he could have won a few stages.

Yet he was there working for Froome…

Lead Image: Kei Tsuji

Read more about: