Colombian climber Esteban Chaves fought to eighth place on today’s short, but brutal final stage in Vuelta al Pais Vasco to move himself up to ninth place on the general classification, wrapping up a solid week for Team BikeExchange.
With seven steep classified climbs coming within the short 111km stage it was a day made for the pure climbers. On the penultimate first category climb with 68km complete, Primoz Roglic & David Gaudu attacked across to the breakaway and went on to lead the race over the top of the incredibly tough climb.
Chaves found himself distanced slightly over the top, but with just under 40km still remaining, he was able to ride back into the chasing group. On the climb up to the summit finish, it was clear Roglic and Gaudu were going to battle it out for the stage victory, while behind, Chaves dug deep with every second counting for the final overall placing.
In the end, after a week of fighting hard everyday, Chaves concludes the six-day race with ninth place overall and a bittersweet memory of stage four where he came agonisingly close to the stage win after being caught with 100metres to go.
“It was pretty aggressive, intense and like I said at the beginning, we need to be realistic, on paper this is not a climb that suits me, but in comparison to the first day, I did really well. I finished in the top-10 today and also moved up some spots on the GC, so this is really nice.
It was a really hard stage, all day just riding in one line. The team, like always, did really well, the positioned me really well at the beginning and we can say it’s a really good performance for the team, for the whole tour.
These first two races have been really good for me, so I’m happy, disappointed for sure as we wanted to have a stage win here, but we tried, we went close. I think the intention and performance of the team is really good, we were part of the race, we were part of the game.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director
“It was a good week we came here with the objective of finishing with a top-10 overall, we started a bit behind after the time trial but just kept chipping away every day that we could. It is really good testament to the guys, the belief in the team and the strategy so it was a real positive experience from that perspective.
We aimed to get a stage win, we just missed out there with the stage where Esteban was away in the break, but we can generally be pretty happy and move forward to the Ardennes races now with some guys with some really good form.”
2021 Vuelta al País Vasco – Final stage:
1. David Gaudu
2. Primoz Roglic
3. Alejandro Valverde
8. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange)
Final General Classification:
1. Primoz Roglic
2. Jonás Vingegaarde
3. Tadej Podacar
9. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange)
Photos courtesy of Getty Images