Chaves jumps into top five overall on final mountain stage of Vuelta a EspanaSat 12 Sep 2015
Colombian Esteban Chaves has put in a phenomenal ride on the penultimate stage and final mountain challenge of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana to jump into the top five overall.
Chaves survived with an elite group of riders as Astana Pro Team attacked the final two climbs with vigor to drop race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and all but hand their leader Fabio Aru the Tour win.
As the group took a right hand turn into the final 200m of the 175.8km stage, Chaves had enough in the tank to attack the group and take a few extra seconds.
Dumoulin and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) finished 3:55minutes behind the 25-year-old to see the two-time 2015 stage winner take over fifth place on general classification.
“Awesome,” Chaves said of the day. “After 20 stages I can stay with the group of favourites.”
“I am really happy and for sure the team is really happy. This is the work we have done with the team. Two years ago the team put their faith in me, and this is the reward.
“The goal for this Vuelta was top ten and now we are top five. Plus three stages and six days in the red jersey, this is an amazing Vuelta for ORICA-GreenEDGE.”
Sport director Neil Stephens put the success down to another tactically sound day of racing.
“It was another fantastic tactical race by the team and by Esteban,” Stephens said. “Esteban got to the top of the third climb and realised that Valverde was in trouble so he stayed with the favourites. When he noticed Dumoulin was fading also, he saw the major move and he had to get across to it.”
“It wasn’t until the last 15km that we realised we could maybe pass Dumoulin on the general classification and that’s when we really collaborated with the Astana team.”
At the start of the tough day, which featured four category one climbs, Stephens said the team’s focus was on maintaining their seventh position.
“Three weeks ago we set the challenging goal of a top ten position at this year’s Vuelta,” Stephens said.
“We went into the second last day working to maintain what we had and see what happens. Who would have thought we would jump two places to a top five.”
How it happened:
The penultimate day of racing was touted as the final opportunity for any major shakeups in the general classification ranks. It delivered.
A group of ten was chased by a bigger group of 28riders into the first of four big climbs for the day whilst the major contenders stayed settled further adrift.
The leaders had almost eight minutes over the peloton atop the first climb, with the large group still hovering in between.
On the second climb Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) attacked from the front group to go solo, whilst the two groups ahead of the peloton joined to make 37riders. At the top of the climb, Plaza had two and a half minutes from the chase group and it would be enough to see the Spanish rider go on for the stage victory.
Behind, the 2015 Vuelta a Espana was decided as Astana Pro Team increased the intensity on the penultimate climb and dropped race leader Dumoulin and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).
They created an elite group of riders, including ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves. On the final climb Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Rafal Majka (TInkoff-Saxo) attacked from the group as the others fought on behind the train of Astana.
With 15km to go, the gap to race leader was stretching and Chaves and Team Katusha assisted the workload at the front of the group to ensure the maximum distance to Dumoulin and minimise the damage to Quintana and Majka.
Chaves attacked the group on the final 200m kick to the line to move into fifth overall (at 3:30min). Aru took over the lead whilst Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha, at 1:17min) and Majka (at 1:29min) now complete the overall podium.
Tomorrow, the 2015 Vuelta a Espana concludes with a flat stage in Madrid.