Colombian climber Esteban Chaves will lead Team BikeExchange’s GC ambitions at next week’s Vuelta al Pais Vasco, coming straight from a strong performance at the recent Volta a Catalunya, where he picked up an impressive solo victory on the Queen stage before finishing in sixth place overall.
The 30-year-old will have top support squad alongside him with local Basque hero Mikel Nieve lining-up for his first stage race of the 2021 season, whilst Australian climber Damien Howson and Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay provide additional climbing support for the race over relentless terrain.
With half of the stages including first category climbs, positioning will be crucial as the riders navigate through the rolling hills of the Basque Country, and for this, the team recruit super domestiques Chris Juul-Jensen and Amund Grøndahl-Jansen,with Dion Smith giving a solid option for the faster stages after his strong showing in Catalunya.
Team BikeExchange at Vuelta al Pais Vasco 2021:
Esteban Chaves (COL)
Amund Grøndahl-Jansen (NOR)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Damien Howson (AUS)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Mikel Nieve (SPA)
Dion Smith (NZL)
“Pais Vasco is a different type of race to Catalunya, it is a race I love but it is a different style race and there will also be other riders like Roglic and Pogacar. There are shorter climbs and steeper climbers compared to Catalunya and it also depends how it is with the weather.
I think it will be a tricky one with the time trial on day one, we will see but we need to go step-by-step. If we had three riders in the top-10 overall in Catalunya then why not in Basque Country too and we will fight for a stage win.
We saw Dion was really good last week so I am sure he will also have a good opportunity again which is also is exciting for us.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director
“We have seen Esteban’s performance recently at Catalunya and that has indicated to us that he deserves our full support for Pais Vasco. We have a pretty good team for that and so we will be going there with that approach.
The time trial is first up so that will set the precedent for the race and then we will be able to decide our tactics from there. Already by stage three, it is a pretty hard finish with a short steep climb, we will have a good idea then how it is really looking for the overall.
One of the other things that Basque is good for, is for a rider like Dion Smith who can sprint and climb. There should be some opportunities for him and he showed in Catalunya that his form is good and he can take a lot of confidence from that race coming into Pais Vasco.”
2021 Vuelta al Pais Vasco Race Details:
Monday, 5th April: Stage 1, Bilbao – Bilbao, ITT 13.9km
Tuesday, 6th April: Stage 2, Zalla – Sestao, 154.8km
Wednesday, 7th April: Stage 3, Amurrio – Ermualde (Laudio), 167km
Thursday, 8th April: Stage 4, Vitoria-Gasteiz – Hondarribia, 189.2km
Friday, 9th April: Stage 5, Hondarribia – Ondarroa, 160.2km
Saturday, 10th April: Stage 6, Ondarroa – Arrate (Eibar), 111.9km
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