Chaves 5th on stage 3 into Andorra, ORICA-SCOTT with 3 within a minute at La VueltaMon 21 Aug 2017
Last year’s podium placer Esteban Chaves declared his return to form, with an impressive performance in the mountains and eventual fifth place on stage three of La Vuelta.
British twins Adam Yates and Simon Yates weren’t far behind at 25 and 29 seconds respectively to give ORICA-SCOTT three riders in the top 11, all within a minute, after three dangerous opening stages in France and Andorra.
A reduce bunch arrived at the foot of the final climb, 11kilometres from the finish line, when Team Sky pushed the pace at the front. Now leader, Chris Froome attacked from his team’s aggressiveness and Chaves was the only rider able to go with him.
The pair created the climb together but were caught on the descent and final straight to the line by two small groups. Eventually nine riders sprinted for the stage victory with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) taking the honours.
When asked if he expected to be at this level, Chaves said with a laugh that ‘he can’t complain’.
“I feel again like one rider,” Chaves said. “I arrived in the first group with the best riders in the world so I’m really happy.”
“It was a really unbelievable final. Sky did a really good job and I am also really happy because the team works unbelievable and I can stay with Froome on the climb.
“In the final I can’t really change with him in the flat, but anyway we arrive in the first group and I am happy for that.
“I want to congratulate Jack Haig. He is a really young fella, and he was still there in the front before the last climb and this is really good to start in this form.”
Chaves now sits in sixth overall, 11seconds behind leader Froome, with new best young rider Adam Yates (39seconds) in eighth and Simon Yates (48seconds) tenth.
How it happened:
After a team time trial and a windy but flat stage, La Vuelta immediately hit the mountains for its stage three journey from Prades Conflent Canigo to Andorra la Vella.
As the flag dropped, attacks followed and a group of four was joined shortly by three more to form the day’s breakaway – the first of the 2017 Spanish Grand Tour.
At it’s maximum the advantage swelled over five minutes but the group shuffled around as some were dropped and others bridged across.
Team Sky set the tempo and eventually it was back together on the penultimate descent with 30km to go.
Froome attacked on the final climb with only Chaves able to respond but Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) caught the duo on the descent.
A second group of five riders also made contact with the leading quartet in the final kilometres before the nine riders battled it out for glory in Andorra.
La Vuelta - Stage 3 Results:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) 4:01:22
2. David De La Cruz (Quickstep Floors) ST
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) ST
5. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) ST
La Vuelta - General Classification after Stage 3:
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 8:52:44
2. David De La Cruz (Quickstep Floors) 0:02
3. Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) 0:02
6. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:11
Photo courtesy of TDWsport.