Colombian Rigoberto Urán will lead Sky’s charge into the Tour de France’s mountains tomorrow. He races for his team, but also for his mum and sister back home in Urrao.

“The Pyrenees are the Pyrenees,” he told Cycling Weekly, “they’re hard climbs.”

His mood was light this morning in Blaye-les-Mines, despite the heavy rain at the start of the 11th stage. Team Sky will put its strength behind 24-year-old Urán after Bradley Wiggins abandoned with a broken collarbone on Friday.

Urán’s used to the responsibility; he began taking care of his mum and sister when he was 14 years old. His dad was shot at a guerrilla/paramilitary checkpoint for carrying too much food back home. The guerrilla soldiers accused him of supplying the paramilitary and shot him dead.

A chance to deliver and collect lottery tickets saved Urán. He rode around the steep climbs of Urrao on his BMX bike, building his strength and catching the attention of a local. The local put him in contact with a sports school, which gave him a chance to race in Europe following a successful start in Colombia.

Urán is ready to take his chances in the Tour after helping Bradley Wiggins win the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. The two previewed the Alpine stages with other team Sky members. Urán already rode the Pyrenees in the 2009 Tour with team Caisse d’Epargne. The mountains are also not very far from Pamplona, where he lives with Colombian cyclists Mauricio Soler, Fabio Duarte and Mauricio Ardila Cano.

“With Bradley, it would have been better. He’s able to race for a high classification,” Urán explained. His crash “changed it all for us, we are racing differently now.

“My Dream? I want to just put in the hard work every year and, sooner or later, arrive at the top, on the podium in Paris. This year? I’d like a top ten, I don’t know, I will see if I can do something. A lot will depend on tomorrow.”

The stage to Luz Ardiden tomorrow takes in the Hourquette d’Ancizan and Tourmalet climbs.

Sky’s team principal, David Brailsford told Cycling Weekly that he has faith in Urán, but warned he injured his groin in the crash with Wiggins. The team will aim for a stage win and a high general classification with Urán, possibly the young riders’ white jersey in Paris. The jersey would make a nice gift for his mum and sister, who lived on dirt floors in Urrao until recently.

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  • Mark Jones

    What a terrible story – he’s deserves some success after all he’s been through.