Uran headlines #PinkArgyle squad for Colombia Oro y Paz

    Rigoberto Uran will lead EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale’s efforts at Colombia’s newest race, Oro y Paz. The six-stage affair has drawn a pack of Colombia’s finest stage racers and sprinters to compete in front of what promises to be an adoring and enthusiastic public.
    Nate Brown, Julian Cardona, Hugh Carthy, Alex Howes, and Daniel Martinez will join Uran. The field for the “Gold and Peace” race is a homecoming for top-tier Colombian riders. With a start list that includes Nairo Quintana, Fernando Gaviria, Sergio and Sebastian Henao, Egan Bernal, Jarlinson Pantano, and Darwin Atapuma electric racing is all but guaranteed.
    Oro y Paz runs from Monday February 6 until Sunday February 11. The opening stage begins in Palmira. The race concludes up the summit finish of Manizales.
    “I’m very happy because it’s the first time we’re going to do a race in Colombia. It’s been many years since we’ve raced in Colombia — approximately 11 years, and I’m really excited to find myself with the Colombian public again,” Uran said. “It’s beautiful and wonderful, and it’s going to serve Colombia well.”
    The route, based in western Colombia, offers something for each type of rider. There’s three flat stages for sprinters to open up the race before a tick upward in the second half, notably on the final stage summit finish.
    Juan Manuel Garate will serve as sport director for #PinkArgyle.
    “We have Rigoberto there, and you know how Rigoberto is outside of Colombia, so you can imagine how many people are waiting for Rigo and the other Colombians who don’t normally race in Colombia — it’s going to be really interesting,” Garate said. “We have three days with uphill finishes, three days of opportunities. I’m really enthusiastic. I saw the riders climbing at camp and they look really, really nice.”
    For Nate Brown, it’s a chance to see the Rigoberto Uran show in a new light.
    “I’m super excited to start the season down here in Colombia.  This is my first time to Colombia, and having Rigo on the team in his home country — I think we are in for a real treat,” said Brown.
    Howes echoed Brown’s sentiment.
    “This place is absolutely amazing,” he said shortly after his arrival in Colombia. “I’m looking forward to helping Rigo put on a show for his home crowd. I’m also looking forward to improving my Spanish with three Colombians and an all Spanish-speaking staff down here.”
    EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale CEO Jonathan Vaughters’ take:
    “The race in Colombia is going to be the most important race of the year for the Colombian teams. It’ll be very competitive.
    “I imagine the first three stages will end in field sprints every time. I’m not looking for anything spectacular from our team there. Then the last few days are more mountainous and there’s a hilltop finish. It’s not the huge, huge mountains of Colombia, but more explosive climbs down in the valley there. If Rigo is on his game I think he’ll be there with the very best and obviously looking to win the overall. Daniel Martinez could also be there.
    “The general classification is our focus in the race. Whether or not they can pull of the win or a podium remains to be seen. February in South America, the local racers are at their peak; it’s the peak of their season there. This race is their Tour de France, so Rigo comes in as a little bit of an outsider compared to his compatriots on the Continental-level teams. We’ll see.”
    EF Education First-Drapac for the 2018 Oro y Paz:
    Sport Director
    Juan Manual Garate (ESP)
    Nate Brown (USA)
    Julian Cardona (COL)
    Hugh Carthy (GBR)
    Alex Howes (USA)
    Daniel Martinez (COL)
    Rigoberto Uran (COL)