Rigoberto Urán will go out with a bang and not a whimper, says Jonathan Vaughters
EF Education-EasyPost boss on preparing to bid farewell to the team's Colombian talisman
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Rigoberto Urán with fans at the start of the 2023 Clásica San Sebastián
Rigoberto Urán was a surprise absentee at the EF Education-EasyPost training camp in Spain this week but, even with the Colombian set to retire next summer, team boss Jonathan Vaughters is confident that the veteran will still have some memorable performances in 2024.
He has been a talismanic figure within the American team since he arrived in 2016 and, even though he will hang up his wheels after the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the man who signed him fully expects one last show-stopping ride from a team leader that enjoys cult status both in Colombia and on the international stage.
“Rigoberto is going to leave a big hole. He’s irreplaceable when it comes to personality and leadership but we’ve already started making steps towards that," Vaughters told GCN when discussing the rider’s absence.
"He’s not here at camp, for example. He was so busy in Colombia over the winter we decided that it would be better to leave him to deal with that."
The EF Education-EasyPost team culture has always had its uniqueness within the world of pro cycling, and in recent years the team has bucked trends with new kits, some slightly quirky signings, and their passion for off-beat but hugely appealing projects that involve Lachlan Morton.
Not content with the typical WorldTour rigmarole, they try and do things a little differently, and Urán has been front and centre in that ethos.
Vaughters believes that Urán’s long-term presence on the team will be missed but that the atmosphere within the current camp has retained the team’s spirit and culture.
"I don’t feel any palpable difference within the team. The culture in this team is so strong, and Rigoberto is a great part of that and added a lot to it, but there are so many other components," Vaughters said.
"From everything that I’ve seen at this camp, his happy spirit will live on."
Urán’s 2024 programme has yet to be announced, and it won’t be until late December that his schedule will be confirmed. He could have a major say in the Spring Classics and the Grand Tours as either a leader or support rider but one certainty, according to Vaughters, is that the Colombian will want to go out with a bang and entertain his fans before finally hanging up his wheels.
"It’s hard to say what his fitness is like but he will want to leave a final stamp on pro cycling before he retires. He’s a very proud person so he will not want his career to go out with a whimper.
"I don’t know where, how, or in which race but there will be a day when he wants to do something and properly say goodbye to his fans with a big performance.”