Chaves sits fifth overall after brutal queen stage of VueltaWed 2 Sep 2015
Stage two and six winner Esteban Chaves has finished eighth on the queen stage of the Vuelta a Espana to remain in the top five overall after eleven stages.
Chaves finished just ahead of the red jersey of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), the pair 2:59minutes down on Mikel Landa (Astana Pro Team) who claimed the stage win from an early breakaway.
Landa’s teammate Fabio Aru attacked from the group of favourites to finish second and move into the race lead. Chaves sits in fifth overall, one-minute 29seconds down.
“This was the hardest stage of my life,” the Colombian said. “I had six months to think about this stage and now it’s finished.”
“I’m really happy with it. The team did a really good job and me too in the final.
“We keep the top ten in the general classification and today I raced with my head, not with my heart. This is better because people started to attack, attack, attack and I stayed the same pace. Then I started to catch people and in the end the gap is not too big too Aru and Purito (Rodriquez).”
As some of the big names lost time, most notably Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), ORICA-GreenEDGE sport director Neil Stephens marked the day as a successful one.
“Esteban rode with his head all day really,” Stephens said. “Then on the final climb he rode a smart ascent, he was really at his limit at the finish, as was everyone, but it was a very successful day for us.”
“It was a difficult to predict. It was ‘the’ big day, there were a couple of riders that were riding within themselves up until now, but today everyone had their cards on the table.
“Esteban’s place in that top ten today was solidified today. There is some tricky stages coming up, one of those will be the time trial for us, but I think today was one of the more successful days we have had.”
Earlier in the day, Australian Damien Howson rode himself into an early break of 19 riders whilst the remainder of the team also safely completed the challenging day within the time limit.
“Damien was one of the riders we needed to work in the latter part of the race,” Stephens said. “He was following wheels and got in the break and that was fantastic.”
“In the end he lost touch one kilometre before the top of the Coll de la Gallina and then had a mechanical but hats off to him for getting into that break and riding smart once he was in it.
“It was a really tricky day for some of the other riders but it’s really great that they all got through.”
How it happened:
There were, without question, nerves throughout the entire peloton as they set off for the much-anticipated brutal queen stage of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.
The short 138km stage had no fewer than 4,950m of climbing across six climbs, making the time limit a serious consideration for many towards the back.
At the front, Team Colombia was the first to attack and the bunch immediately spread out on the first climb. After some shuffling, the first group of the day formed with 19 riders, Howson representing ORICA-GreenEDGE within it.
Imanol Erviti (Movistar Team) attacked from the front group to enjoy time out in front alone before he was once gain caught by the lead group.
Behind, the favourites maintained the advantage of the escapees at around five minutes.
As the front group tackled the hors category climb it began to splinter and the peloton also dramatically reduced on the toughest climb of the day.
Attacks started from the group of favourites on the descent but they were nullified before the final climb.
Eventually it was the attack of Aru that distanced his fellow favourites. Aru finished behind teammate Landa, who remained in front from the breakaway, on the stage to give Astana the stage win and overall lead.