Colombian contender Rigoberto Uran says his Giro campaign has gone well so far, despite an early season blighted by illness

Rigoberto Urán showed he is ready to challenge for the Giro d’Italia this week despite doubts circling his form in the early season. The Colombian, who rode to second last year after first helping Bradley Wiggins, now sits second among the overall favourites.

“It’s going well,” Urán told Cycling Weekly. “I don’t know why people put question marks on me ahead of the Giro d’Italia. They can say what they want because up until now, it’s gone well.”

Urán had a stomach infection this spring which set him back. In Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Catalonia he suffered, but at the Tour of Romandy he bounced back to place fourth in the time trial behind winner Chris Froome.

“Now, it’s going very well. I was able to train well even with the setback,” Urán said. “I wasn’t in form in Tirreno and Catalunya, but that doesn’t matter. The Giro d’Italia matters.”

Sky signed him to help its Grand Tour team through 2011 to 2013. He supported both Wiggins and Froome, and when given his space, rode for himself. In 2012, he won the young rider’s white jersey at the Giro and last year, the mountain stage to Altopiano del Montasio. On the final mountain day to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, he overtook Evans to place second overall.

The Colombian jumped from Sky to Omega Pharma-QuickStep for the 2014 season with the promise of team leadership at Grand Tours.

After yesterday’s mountain-top finish in Montecassino, Urán sits third overall. Only Cadel Evans sits higher up by 57 seconds in second place. Michael Matthews leads the race.

Urán crashed with team-mate Pieter Serry and many others at 11.2 kilometres out, but was able to catch the chasing group with Nairo Quintana. Only Evans’ group stayed clear.

“What matters in these early stages is that he doesn’t lose time. We have two weeks to go, and in the last week, anything can happen,” team sports director, Tom Steels said.

“He placed second overall last year, but the goal for him is just to get a top five. That’d be a great job. To win a Grand Tour is the hardest thing to do in cycling.”

Urán also aims for a modest goal. He said that anything less than a win, even if he finished second last year, would not be a failure.

“No, no,” he explained. “Even the top five would be good. To get on the podium is hard. The Giro’s hard.”