Chaves cramps but fights on for eighth at Il Lombardia

Sun 4 Oct 2015

Colombian Esteban Chaves has been hampered by cramps within the final eight kilometres of Il Lombardia having ridden himself into serious contention in the final monument of the 2015 season.

Chaves, who returned to racing after his breakthrough fifth place at the Vuelta a Espana, put in an attack to chase sole leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) at the start of the final climb but immediately dropped out of contention.

Nibali went on to win, Chaves holding on bravely for eighth place as ORICA-GreenEDGE’s top finisher.

“Top ten in one race in really good,” Chaves said. “But when you stay really close to first position and you can’t win, it’s disappointing.”

“Today when I tried to attack to close the gap to Nibali, (I suffered) cramps in my legs on the last climb.”

Starting alongside talented young climbers Adam and Simon Yates, Chaves was the strongest amongst three options for ORICA-GreenEDGE on a brutal 245km day of racing.

“Right from the finish of the Tour of Spain, Esteban was talking about this race, he was very excited about it,” sport director Neil Stephens said.

“We were lucky to be able to start with three guys that could potentially be around the mark today and the best on the day was Esteban.

“He gave it his best. He was cramping on the last climb and had to stop pedaling but it was great he was able to fight through and finish in the top ten.”

Stephens credited his motivation to take advantage of strong form off a successful Vuelta a Espana campaign.

“Esteban knows after Grand Tours in the past that he has had good form,” Stephens said. “He was good in China last year and he was good after the Giro this year. Now we have seen he is good after the Vuelta as well.”

How it happened:

At 245km, the 200 starters of Il Lombardia were in for a long day in the saddle for the final monument of 2015.

The early break was one of 11 riders. After 50km the large group had eight minutes over the peloton and they maintained that advantage over the next 50km.

The most difficult section of the exhausting race came after almost 200km of racing when riders hit the toughest climb of the day, the Colma di Sormano - a 7.2km ascent with an average gradient of 17% and peak of almost 30%.

At its start, the race had changed shape with Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18) and Marco Canola (UnitedHealthcare) surviving out in front from the early move before they were caught and dropped by Michal Kwiatowski (Etixx – Quickstep) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal).

The duo sped out to a one-minute lead on the descent, but a determined Astana Pro Team led a small chase group behind. Amongst the chasers were ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Chaves and Simon Yates.

With a little under 20km to race, on the Civiglio, the duo were nullified as Yates lost contact. Chaves looked comfortable on the wheel of the Astana train as the front group reduced to less than ten riders.

The front group began to attack each other but remained together over the penultimate climb, save a few who lost contact.

Nibali attacked on the descent and held a 25second lead moving into the final climb within the last ten kilometres. Chaves attempted to launch an attack in pursuit but was immediately affected by cramp.

Daniel Moreno (Team Katusha) was the next to launch from behind but it was too little too late as Nibali went on to win by 21seconds.