Volta a Catalunya stage winner Esteban Chaves came agonisingly close to the stage four victory today in Vuelta al Pais Vasco, after attacking away from a front group of six riders in the final kilometre, only to be caught metres from the line.
Displaying grit and determination, Chaves was on fire throughout the 189km stage, attacking on the final first category climb, Erlaitz, before being caught and then attacking once more on the descent to force the race winning move.
The Team BikeExchange rider dragged Pello Bilbao with him, followed by four more riders with just 20km remaining and their gap increased out to over 50 seconds on route to contesting the stage win.
Biding his time, Chaves waited in the wheels before pouncing in the final kilometre in a bid for a second solo victory of the season. The Colombian climber came close, but behind the five chasers made a huge acceleration and flew past the 30-year-old just metres before the finish line to snatch the stage win from his grasp.
Chaves now moves up the overall to 15th after a stellar performance throughout the day and with two hard stages still to go.
Esteban Chaves – 6th
“I really wanted to do really well today. Today, this type of race, on paper suits me better and Saturday, and I know all the routes. I spent a lot of time with Imanol Iza up here, I feel like it’s home, I know all the roads really well.
I tried in the final on the climb and I tried after the climb at the top, and I tried in the final again. Hats off to all the work the boys did today, I wanted to pay it back and it was really close.
I did everything I could and more, I almost died! But this is what it is, this is cycling and it’s a beautiful thing and we need to be happy. Of course a little bit disappointed, but the important thing is to play the game.”
Dave McPartland – Sport Director
“The guys set Esteban up for the final really well and he showed the condition he is in; I think he was the strongest there in the group. He attacked multiple times and McNulty was riding to get the biggest gap possible.
He was caught so close; it is frustrating but it really shows the condition he has got and that doesn’t go away overnight so we will keep fighting.”
2021 Vuelta al País Vasco – Stage 4 Results:
1. Ion Izaguirre 4:17:07
2. Pello Bilbao ST
3. Brandon McNulty ST
6. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) 0:02
General Classification after stage 4:
1. Brandon McNulty 12:25:21
2. Primoz Roglic 0:23
3. Jonás Vingegaard 0:28
15. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) +1:44
Photos courtesy of Getty Images