Chaves into fourth overall with eighth on stage 14Sat 5 Sep 2015
Two-time stage winner Esteban Chaves has moved up into fourth position overall after a strong climb to eighth place on stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Whilst an unthreatening break battled for the stage result, all eyes were back in the peloton on the final 18km hors category ascent as Astana Pro Team set a brutal pace.
Race leader Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) launched an unsuccessful attack to kick off the action before others also tried their luck to create gaps.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana was one of the biggest winners of the day as the top placed general classification rider whilst ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Chaves also looked strong, taking time on his nearest rivals Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) to move into fourth overall.
“I feel tired,” Chaves said honestly when asked how he felt. “It was a really hard stage, long, and in the final four kilometres Astana was a really strong team, unbelievable.”
“Today I (could) stay with the best riders and I am really happy. The team worked really hard again and most important is to keep this position on general classification.”
Starting the day in fifth position overall, the priority was protection but, once again, the 25-year-old rode smartly to capitalise on an opportunity on the road.
“We identified that today wouldn’t produce any great differences in the general classification and we were happy to try to maintain the position we were in,” sport director Neil Stephens said.
“Esteban got to the finish, looked around and saw a few tired people. The last few kilometres of the climb really suited him so he thought he would give it everything to take advantage of the opportunity to gain any seconds that could become important at some stage.
“It’s a good sign for the next couple of days, which will be really solid racing and it’s great to know that his teammates are also responding very well.”
How it happened:
At 215km, stage 14 was the longest of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.
Again, it was another hard fought start to the day’s racing, the breakaway taking almost 60km before they were allowed to ride up the road.
Of the five-riders in the move, Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) was ranked highest on general classification over one hour down on leader Aru. It made for a relaxed peloton as they allowed the quintet almost ten minutes advantage.
As they hit the final hors category climb to the line, the gap remained the same and the race became two battles – one for the stage from the breakaway and the other for seconds on general classification from the peloton.
At the front, Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) survived a series of attacks by Cherel before launching his own move for a solo victory.
Behind, Astana Pro Team set a brutal pace up the climb before leader Fabio Aru launched an attack. Quintana went with him and the other general classification contenders also battled on.
There was a regrouping of favourites before Quintana rode to another small advantage. Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) chased the Colombian with Chaves finishing strongly behind him.
Third and fourth placed Dumoulin and Majka lost time, allowing Chaves to leapfrog Majka into fourth position overall.