Chaves makes history in comeback victory at Giro d’Italia

Fri 31 May 2019

Colombian Esteban Chaves has gone one better than his second place two days ago, with an emphatic and emotional solo win on stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia.

The victory is the first for Chaves in 12-months, following his win up Mt Etna on stage six at last year’s Giro but then subsequent illness that finished his season.

After stage wins in 2016 and 2018, today’s success makes the 29-year-old the first Colombian to win a stage at three different editions of the Italian Grand Tour.

Again in the break:
The breakaway formed reasonably quickly on stage 19, with Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Chaves amongst the 11 riders who made the first split.

The peloton chased for a number of kilometres to follow, and counter attacks launched, but just one additional rider was able to join the action at the front.

As the race settled, Movistar Team took their position as race leaders at the head of the bunch, and allowed the move to ride out and settled at an advantage of eight minutes, not interested in fighting for the stage.

Attacks from the front:
As the race entered the final 35km, the advantage was over nine minutes and the escapees began to start playing for the stage.

Manuele Boaro (Astana Pro Team) was the first to attack and the games began.

Chaves shouldered the majority of the work on the final climb, putting in multiple attacks only to be covered each time and have no one willing to work with him.

Eventually, the Colombian finally broke the elastic on the steepest part of the climb with 2.4km remaining to ride to an emphatic and emotional solo victory.

Esteban Chaves:
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t have words for this. It’s a lot of work that we have put together, my family, my team, my friends, everyone knows how hard we worked. I never gave up and the climb of the day showed that, I attacked many, many times until I could drop everyone.

“It was just happiness, it was like I took a really heavy weight off my back and it’s the result from all the hard work in the last two or three years.

“This shows me I can do it, this shows me that I’m not over and it shows me that I can do this for a long, long time.

“In the last climb, because it’s not super steep I had to attack many, many times and this last climb is like life; you need to keep trying, keep going, keep fighting, keep attacking because you never know when you drop everyone and arrive at the finish line with the victory.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“It’s been a long time coming. We came here trying to win the general classification, but things change, we adapted our plan and we weren’t leaving the Giro d’Italia without a minimum of a stage win.

“With four second-places, we’ve been close, but that’s a special win on a couple of fronts; obviously for Esteban after a big year coming back from his illness, but also for the team and the faith and patience that we’ve had with his comeback. It’s been a long time, 12 months. He isn’t in the best shape of his life, but he was good enough to win today.

“We had to have Lucas (Hamilton), Esteban or Mikel (Nieve) in the breakaway. If they weren’t in it, we would have controlled the race until it happened. 

“Because the break went so quickly, there wasn’t another world-class climber in there. Usually, the harder the race gets, the harder it is to get in the breakaway, but it went early and that worked in our favour. 

“The big fear for us before the climb started was that Esteban could be isolated with a long range attack, but when we got on the last climb, we were fairly confident. He was the best climber in the breakaway, that doesn’t guarantee you anything but it’s a nice place to start.

“Our race hasn’t finished, tomorrow is a day that will define the Giro.”

Giro d’Italia – Stage 19 Results:
1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:01:31
2. Andrea Vendrame (Androni-Giocattoli) +0:10
3. Amaro Antunes (CCC Team) +0:12

Giro d’Italia – General Classification after Stage 19:
1. Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) 83:52:22
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +1:54
3. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo Visma) +2:16
8. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +7:17

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.