Chaves maintains lead after first big mountain test at Vuelta

Fri 28 Aug 2015

Two-time stage winner Esteban Chaves has finished sixth on stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana to maintain his ten-second lead at the Spanish Grand Tour.

The stage was touted as the first general classification test of the 2015 Tour with a 19km category one climb to finish.

Chaves crossed the line 36seconds down on Bertjan Lindeman (Team Lotto-Jumbo) who survived from the breakaway to claim the stage.

“I’m really happy,” he said. “Today was a final with a 40 or 50minute climb, really really long, and the team again was fantastic.”

“It’s a big responsibility (to be in the red jersey), it’s important you don’t lose your head and you stay really focused. It’s the first big uphill finish and now it is important to recover.”

Fabio Aru (Astana Team) attacked the general classification group towards the top of the final climb to gain a few extra seconds, whilst Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) lost further time off the back.

The top three overall places remain unchanged - Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) sits ten seconds behind Chaves with Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) 33seconds adrift.

“(Aru) attacked, but I think it’s not my responsibility to close all gaps,” the 25-year-old said. “All of the other riders want to win, same to me, and finally Aru (gained) some seconds.“

“He is an important rider, obviously, but I can’t go for all riders because I don’t have amazing amazing legs.

“It’s important to save energy for the future. There is a lot of important stages coming, and I say again it’s really important to stay really focused and concentrate.”

How it happened:

It was another fast start but the break took much less time to form than on yesterday’s stage.

The group of five was immediately allowed freedom, deemed of little threat to general classification with all riders more than 14minutes down on race leader Chaves.

They rode out to 13minutes advantage with 80km to go and looked certain to contest the stage before Team Movistar and Astana took over the front from a conservative ORICA-GreenEDGE and the advantage started to tumble.

With seven kilometres to go the break looked tired and all of a sudden doomed but Lindeman and Ilia Koshevoy (Team Lampre-Merida) managed to fight and hold on to finish first and second respectively.