Chaves rides smart to keep top five position after Vuelta stage 15

Sun 6 Sep 2015

Colombian Esteban Chaves has put in another strong performance on stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana, finishing seventh to remain in the top five overall.

The two-time 2015 stage winner was once again in the final elite group of climbers on the category one ascent to the line before Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) attacked with a kilometre remaining to win the stage.

Chaves rode smartly to minimise any time lost once he couldn’t go with the move, losing only 20seconds on the line.

Rafal Majka (TInkoff-Saxo) finished second to move into third overall, just ten seconds ahead of the ORICA-GreenEDGE rider. Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) retained his lead by one second to Rodriguez.

“The last climb was really fast,” Chaves said. “The Movistar guys started to attack in the first three kilometres.”

“In the final I was riding a good tempo. The last kilometre was really steep and Purito (Rodriguez) attacked and I don’t see him, I stayed still and tried to save my position. 

“When he attacked he got three or five seconds to me, and in the final it was only about 15seconds. It’s a good progression for me.”

Sport director Neil Stephens said Chaves and the team got everything out of today they wanted.

“Esteban rode a really good final climb and all of the boys did a really good job positioning him into that climb,” Stephens said.

“He wasn’t obsessed with anybody and he rode his own pace. He knew the final two or three kilometres were the hardest so he paced until that point and rode within himself to defend his position.

“Tomorrow is, perhaps, going to be the hardest day of the Tour of Spain. It’s a solid day right throughout with an extremely hard final climb. If we can walk away with a similar position to what we are now, it’ll be a great day.”

How it happened:

A group of nine riders formed the day’s breakaway, but weren’t giving too much freedom as the general classification teams seemed to have their eye on the stage win as well as crucial overall seconds.

By the final climb just Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) remained, leading the reduced peloton by around one-minute.

Movistar took control at the head of the chase, Nairo Quintana launching the first attack on the low ramps of the 12.7km Alto de Sotres climb.

The contenders managed to reel him in, pass Zubeldia but for the most part they remained together. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) began to lose touch with the group and it was the move of Rodriguez in the final kilometre that was too good for the rest.