Chaves fifth on stage 18 of Vuelta a EspanaThu 10 Sep 2015
Colombian Esteban Chaves has finished fifth on the 18th stage of the Vuelta a Espana to retain his overall position moving into the final three stages.
On a day that the big players were keen to attack race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin), the two-time stage winner maintained positioning with the elite group of contenders, even putting in a number of attacks himself on the final climb.
In the end, the day was contested by the surviving breakaway, Chaves sprinting to second from the bunch to take fifth on the stage and remain seventh overall.
“The plan was to try and maintain the general classification after yesterday’s time trial,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “We got onto the final climb and they started to attack a little so Esteban thought he would give it a dig too.”
“Everyone was suffering right on the limit, he gave it a test to try his legs out and in fact coming into a little pinch with three kilometres to go he was up there as a couple of others got lost. Even in the final he had enough to run second in the bunch sprint.
“All around it was a really hard day for the boys working today, but they did everything they had to for Esteban and we are looking forward to fighting on for the rest of the Tour.”
How it happened:
The peloton covered over 50km in the first hour of racing whilst many battled to make the day’s breakaway.
With so many interested, at one point there was a group as big as 50 off the front, before eventually it was a move of 25riders that established just after the first hour of racing.
For a long time MTN-Qhubeka took duties at the head of the peloton, keeping the advantage of the breakaway to around five minutes to defend their top ten position overall.
Then Astana Pro Team decided to turn on the burners and the gap immediately reduced. At the bottom of the final climb the break started to splinter as the gap sat at just over two minutes.
The pace and relentless attacking from behind was also enough to shell out much of the peloton, only the general classification riders remaining in contention.
The work of Nicholas Roche (Team Sky) and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) from the break saw them as the last remaining to contest the stage, with Roche taking honours.
Behind, the attacks continued but weren’t enough to split the main contenders. Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) won the bunch kick for fourth, followed closely by Chaves.