Chaves on target ahead of first rest day

Sun 31 Aug 2014

Grand tour debutant Esteban Chaves heads into the first rest day of the Vuelta a Espana sitting in 12th position after finishing 34th on a tough stage nine this afternoon.

The 24-year-old, who is one minute 34seconds behind leader Nairo Quintana (MOV), remains ahead of the team’s targets on what is their first ever grand tour general classification consideration.

“We are sticking to our main plan,” sport director Neil Stephens said.

“That was to really hope to stay within two minutes of the top guys at the end of the first week and he is right there.” 

“It has been a fantastic first week, we are looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and onto the second week.”

Chaves was also pleased with the start of his first grand tour, grateful to be given the opportunity by the team.

“It’s the first time for the team in three years to fight for GC and I am very happy and excited that it is with me,” the Colombian said.

“After last year, for me, this is really amazing and I want to take the opportunity.

“I will work all day, everyday and hopefully in the final I will be in the top ten.

“I want to say thanks to all the guys who have been really amazing with me, the boys, the masseurs, the directors, and for every person that is helping me, it is really really amazing and I am so thankful.”

In contrast to the sweltering heat in the opening stages, today’s stage had the added complication of heavy rain.

“It was a tricky test today actually,” Stephens said.

“The weather conditions turned on us a little bit, there was a big breakaway and the bunch was really strung out. There were a lot of flat tires and a couple of crashes.

“The boys did a fantastic job once again. Esteban cracked a little bit with three kilometres to go but he really didn’t do too bad.”  

Earlier in the day a large group of 27-riders established 45km into the stage. An additional four riders, including ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Sam Bewley, shortly joined them.

With the gap sitting around six minutes, Bewley put in a last ditched effort ahead of the penultimate climb but was caught and dropped as the break started the category two ascent.

With the break splitting, Lampre-Merida’s Winner Anacona attacked from the surviving riders for a solo victory.

Stephens said Bewley’s presence provide protection and support for Chaves should the need to bridge across occur.

“We wanted to make sure we had someone in the break,” Stephens explained.

“The most important thing there was to make sure that should it get complicated and our boys bridge over to them that we had someone there.”

Tomorrow is the first rest day of the Vuelta a Espana with racing to continue with a 36.7km individual time trial on Tuesday.