Chaves retains eighth overall but gains time on stage thirteen of the Giro d’Italia

Fri 20 May 2016

Esteban Chaves produced a fantastic performance on a tough stage thirteen of the Giro d’Italia today retaining eighth place on the general classification and gaining valuable time with more mountain stages to come over the weekend.

The 2015 Tour of Abu Dhabi winner was yet again in the thick of the action for ORICA-GreenEDGE on the first of a trio of mountain stages that saw attacks come flying on the last two climbs of the day.

Chaves matched every move without losing an inch of ground and crossed the line in 13th place in the middle of the favourites group behind breakaway stage winner Mikel Nieve (Team-Sky).

Chaves was his usual cheerful and upbeat self speaking after the stage.

“It was full gas all day,” said Chaves. “The important thing is not to lose any time and stay with the other favourites and we showed again today that we can do that.”

“I attacked once on the final climb to see how the other guys were and we were all together. The other guys did the same a bit later but it didn’t break up. Tomorrow is a really hard stage so we will see what happens.”

Sport director Matt White was pleased with how the day went for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

“The team did a very good job of looking after Esteban (Chaves) today,” said White. “We were in a good position going into the last two climbs and then Esteban rode really well in a very select group on the category one climb near the finish.”

“We are in a great position ahead of two incredibly difficult stages at the weekend. Tomorrow is without question the toughest stage of the race followed by a very important individual time trial on Sunday.

“Esteban is riding very well,” continued White. “He is showing that day by day and the whole team is focused and very positive.”

How it happened:

Stage 13 moved the focus away from the sprinters and shifted attention back towards the general classification with the first of three consecutive mountain stages that included four categorised climbs over 170kilometres and 4,000metres of elevation.

Attacks began to form as soon as the flagged dropped but none of them escaped the attention of the watchful peloton. The attacks kept coming due to the first 45kilometres of the stage being predominantly flat before tackling the brutal climb of Montemaggiore.

A group of six managed to gain a slight advantage before being quickly joined by another 20 or more riders led by Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) which reinforced the groups efforts to escape.

Thirty riders now formed the breakaway developing a lead of over one minute on the bunch as they reached the Montemaggiore climb.

The size of the breakaway began to shrink on the climb as the gradient reached ramps of 10% - 15% with the Lampre-Merida led breakaway beginning to accelerate away from the pink jersey group of Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep).

The race was beginning to split from front to back as Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) went on the attack from the main bunch and was immediately followed by more riders.

After 50kilometres Stefan Denifl (IAM-Cycling) had broken clear from the front of the lead group and had two minutes 39seconds on the pink jersey group. The breakaway group of Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini-Fantini) and Ulissi were in the middle, one-minute behind Denifl.

Chaves sat comfortably alongside Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in the Jungels group as Denifl crested the climb to take the first points of the day. The attack of Wellens was brought back by the favourites group who were now around three minutes 30seconds behind the leaders with 90kilometres left to race.

Team Cannondale were also represented in the breakaway group and were now rotating off the front with Lampre-Merida with a steady lead of two minutes 30seconds on the Chaves bunch going into the last 70kilometres.

The leaders passed the finish for the first time with 57kilometres to go the lead was back up to three minute on the peloton.

Etixx-Quickstep were strung out in a line at the front of the bunch working for race leader Jungels as the race swung away from Cividale del Friuli and back towards the mountains for a second helping of 2,000metres of elevation over the final two climbs.

ORICA-GreenEDGE moved up to the front of the now reduced peloton with 43kilometres to go looking to position Chaves ahead of the penultimate climb the Cima Porzus. The leaders still had a three-minute advantage when they hit the first slopes of the climb but this soon began to fall away as Astana upped the pace from the chasing group of favourites.

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) and Nieve were the first to attack from the now fragmenting breakaway group along with Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). The favourites were all together as Astana continued to keep the pace high with the group now severely reduced to around twenty riders. Nieve dropped Dombrowski halfway up the climb and traversed the summit alone two minutes ahead of the chasers with Visconti just 30seconds behind the Sky rider.

The Chaves group had reduced further still when they hit the descent towards the final climb, Chaves was fourth wheel behind Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador (Movistar) as they embarked on a fearless descent.

Nieve had two minutes on the Chaves/Nibali group at the start of the final climb to Valle with Chaves the first to up the ante with an injection of speed at the front that instantly caused problems for race leader Jungels.

Attacks followed from Valverde and Nibali with splits now forming within the group as Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) and Amador were also dropped.

Only 40seconds now separated the chasers and Nieve with 15kilometres to go. Chaves, Nibali and Valverde were all together with two of Nibali’s Astana teammates also present. Nibali attacked with 13kilometres to go but was closely followed by Chaves, Rafa Majka (Tinkoff) and Valverde. Visconti was trying to make contact with Nieve before the final descent to the finish some 40seconds ahead of the Chaves group.

The favourites group just about came back together on the descent with Uran and Amador both regaining contact. The group were two minutes down on Nieve with six kilometres to go with the pink jersey of Jungels a further 40seconds back as the race hit the flat road to the finish in Cividale del Friuli

Nieve crossed the line completely alone to take the stage win with Visconti claiming second just as the Chaves group arrived on the home straight with Nibali sprinting to third place and the bonus seconds with Chaves just behind. Amador moves into the race lead as Jungels lost time on his rivals after failing to regain contact on the final descent.

Stage fourteen takes place tomorrow and covers 210kilometres from Alpago to Corvara. Arguably the mother of all mountain stages this is without doubt the toughest day of the race.

The ‘Queen Stage’ traverses some of the most brutal climbs of the Dolomite mountain range including the infamous Passo Giau and Passo Pordoi. The parcours inclines steadily from the start and eventually covers six categorised climbs with over 5,000metres elevation.

Giro d’Italia stage thirteen results:

1. Mikel Nieve (Team-Sky) 04:31:49
2. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) 00:00:43
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 00:01:17
13. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:01:17  

General classification after stage thirteen:

1. Andrey Amador (Movistar) 54:05:50
2. Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:26
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 00:00:41
8. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:02:19