Chaves claims solo victory atop Lake Mountain to move into overall lead at Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Sat 3 Feb 2018

Colombian climber Esteban Chaves has taken a solo victory atop Lake Mountain on stage three of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with a bold attack with 17km remaining.

After a furious pace was set at the bottom of the concluding 20km climb, Chaves escaped alone and was too strong, finishing 42seconds ahead of Alexander Evans (Mobius-BridgeLane) and one-minute 9seconds ahead of a small chase group.

Having covered all of the attacks in a small chase group behind, 2015 winner Cameron Meyer and reigning champion Damien Howson finished fourth and fifth on the stage to give Mitchelton-SCOTT the top three positions overall with one day of racing remaining.

A long, bold attack:
The early breakaway’s day was ended in the wind up to the final ascent of Lake Mountain as Mobius-BridgeLane set a furious pace on the early slopes and began to shell tired riders off the back immediately. 

Chaves attacked with 17km still left to ride and immediately forced a gap on the quickly diminishing front group. Evans was the only rider to get a distance on the chase group and at one point was within touching distance before dropped off to finish 42seconds behind the stage leader.

Covering every move:
A small group of 14 had the work of chasing behind Chaves, but Mitchelton-SCOTT had every move covered. Defending champion Howson, 2015 winner Meyer and young climbers Lucas Hamilton and Robert Power followed every attack launched in the final 15km, disheartening the break to support their leader. 

One, two, three for Mitchelton-SCOTT:
With Chaves crossing the line solo to throw his arms in the air for victory on the stage, and Meyer and Howson sprinting to fourth and fifth in the chase group, Mitchelton-SCOTT go into tomorrow’s final stage with the top three riders on the general classification.

The Colombian has 32seconds on Meyer and 39seconds on Howson, with the team’s nearest competitor Ruben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo) at 45seconds.

Esteban Chaves – Stage winner and overall leader:
“I’m really happy to start the season with this form. It was a really hard tough race nearly six hours on the bike.  

“We have a really strong team here and now finally we have a stage win and the jersey and this is really special for me.

“I made the move with 17kilometres to go and it was a really long way but the plan was I try and if they bring me back then we have the other guys. 

“It is beautiful in this team that everybody has a chance, everybody has an opportunity. The young fellas here are really strong.

“It is really beautiful we are now top three overall and we need to enjoy this as winning bike races is not easy. Tomorrow is a hard one and people will attack for sure and we need to keep everything under control.”

Damien Howson – Defending champion and third overall:
“I’m just as happy today as I was last year. Esteban has obviously worked really hard all summer and we had a lot of confidence in him. 

"We have such depth in the team, I think we had five riders in the final and other teams just didn’t have as many numbers still up there and they had to really commit to riding rather than attacking if they were ever going to bring him back.

"The team that rode really hard at the bottom caused a group of 10 to 15 guys left and I think everyone including myself was pretty pinned. Esteban was just breathing through his nose so once he opened up a gap he was pretty hard to follow.

"We were then just covering moves and hoping he could pull it off. It was a full team effort today and we can’t thank Alex Edmondson and Michael Hepburn enough for controlling such a long stage.”

Tomorrow: Kinglake to reign supreme
The 2018 Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be decided by tomorrow’s final stage at Kinglake. The circuit race is far from easy with undulating roads ensuring no easy ride to the esteemed overall victory for teams needing to control. 

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Stage 3 Result:
1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 5:53:55
2. Alexander Evans (Mobius-BridgeLane) +0:42
3. Ruben Guerreiro (Trek Segafredo) +1:09

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – General Classification after stage 3:
1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 14:56:35
2. Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:32
3. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:39