For a few weeks over the winter, Rigoberto Urán reckoned he might have had enough. His 2023 season had been a struggle. The Colombian was still the same, but cycling had just kept on changing. The rivals were younger. The races were faster. The risks were greater.
Eighteen years into his professional career, the trade-off between the rewards of racing and the grind of the routine started to seem a little less worthwhile. His children were growing up. His business interests were multiplying. Life beyond the peloton seemed more enticing than ever. Word eventually filtered out in November that 2024 would be his final season, with the Paris Olympics his last act.
But just when Urán thought he was out, they pulled him back in. EF Education-EasyPost floated the idea of a two-year contract extension. As he began training again in earnest for the new campaign, the finality of retirement began to dawn on him. Doubts started to creep in. He talked things over and again with his family, with his team. The more he thought and the more he talked, the less firm the decision became.
When Urán took the stage at the Tour Colombia’s pre-race press conference on Monday morning, he walked back the idea that his retirement date had already been set in stone. His career might end in 2024, but then again it might not. Later that afternoon, when Urán sits down with Cyclingnews a quiet corridor of the Hotel Estelar in Paipa, he lays out the current state of play.
“Up to now, we haven’t decided anything,” Urán explains. “Obviously, it’s something I’ve been speaking about with my family, with the team, and we’re thinking about it. I like riding my bike and training, but in recent years with this new generation, it’s more of an effort. Much more. You’re doing more training and everything, but when they open the gas, you can’t stay with them…”
Urán turned 37 last month and this, remarkably, is his 19th season in the pro peloton after he jumped directly from junior racing in Colombia to a contract with Tenax. In truth, it would be abnormal if Urán hadn’t considered retirement by this point, with so much road having passed beneath his wheels, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to exit the stage just yet.
“I haven’t said for sure that I’ll finish up this year. It’s possible, but it’s not certain yet,” he says. “We’ll do the Tour Colombia calmly, and then this year I’ll do Paris-Nice, Catalunya, Tour de France,…