Chaves sixth overall after second queen stage of Vuelta a EspanaMon 7 Sep 2015
Colombian Esteban Chaves has maintain his top ten position overall going into the second rest day of the Vuelta a Espana, finishing 20th on stage 16 – the second queen stage of the three-week Tour.
Despite only 6.8km in length, the final climb was one of the toughest of the Spanish race with an increase in altitude of almost 800m, including ramps of over 20%, all after six previous climbs.
Chaves lost touch with the top general classification riders with just 2.5 kilometres to go, finishing one minute behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) who finished ninth to move into the red leader’s jersey. Almost nine minutes earlier Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) won the stage from the day’s early break.
“They started the day very conservatively but when they turned up the gas they really turned it up hard,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “All of the teams suffered a lot and even Esteban had to go a little deep on the second last climb.”
“Going into the final climb he really had to pace himself. He did a fantastic job getting into the last kilometre and then unfortunately the really steep stuff took a bit of a toll on him and he lost a little bit of time.
“It’s still a fantastic result and we are still in sixth place. We have to be realistic that there might be some people that do a better time trial than us the day after tomorrow but we will take the rest day to recover physically, reassess the situation and get ready for our final assault on the last week of the Vuelta.”
How it happened:
Five riders moved quickly off the front at the start of stage 16 – the newly branded queen stage of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.
The 185km stage featured seven climbs, including two brutal efforts to finish.
Five riders bridged across to the existing group of five and the day’s move of ten riders was formed. The break would maintain this makeup as they rode out to the biggest advantage of this year’s Spanish Grand Tour – 22minutes.
At 22minutes and with 110km to go, Team Katusha moved to the front of the peloton and the gap started to reduce, but only very gradually.
In the end, as the early breakaway fought far up the road for the stage victory, the general classification battle began in earnest on the penultimate climb.
Whilst the peloton shredded, the favourites remained together into the final climb. Tinkoff-Saxo attacked immediately but shortly after came back to the reduced group.
In the last three kilometres, riders began to drop off the back including ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Chaves.
Rodriguez was the strongest of the bunch, moving into the red jersey by one second to Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team). Ahead it was Schleck who took the day honours.
Tomorrow is another much awaited rest day before riders tackle the final five stage of the Vuelta a Espana – starting with a crucial 38.7km time trial.