Chaves successfully defends on dangerous day for red jersey at Vuelta a Espana

Tue 25 Aug 2015

Stage two winner Esteban Chaves has successfully defended the race lead on what was a dangerous day for the red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana today.

At a glance the fourth stage didn’t look too threatening, but the predominantly flat day featured a technical final five kilometres with a number of sharp ramps that threatened to create gaps at the head of the race.

“It’s true,” the Colombian said of predictions. “It was a really really difficult final.”

“You went down a big road at 60-70km per hour, then you needed to brake and then in one moment you start a 10% climb.

“It’s really difficult to stay in the front when it’s like this so Simon Gerrans, Daryl Impey, Cameron Meyer and Mitch Docker put me in the front.  Their work is really amazing and really important for me.”

Whilst the earlier work of ORICA-GreenEDGE ensured perfect position coming into the finale, Chaves played it smart to ensure he didn’t suffer any losses.

The 25-year-old crossed the line in tenth place on the same time as stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar). He maintains his five-second advantage to Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) on the general classification standings.

“I started (the final four kilometres) alone, because the guys used all the energy to help me before,” Chaves explained. “But I just had to follow Purito (Rodriguez), (Alejandro) Valverde and Peter Sagan to try to stay with them in the final.”

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with the efforts of the team, who benefited from the ambitions of others to assist with the workload throughout the stage.

“It was also going to be a stage where there was a lot of people who had their eye on the win,” Stephens said. “We were able to put in a moderate amount of work until the people who were going for the stage took over and did the brunt of the work in the second part of the race.”

“We also worked to look after Esteban, we had him well placed in the final and we tried to keep the stress as low as possible.

“It was basically a saved day for us. It was a day that was somewhat of a transition stage and now we look to continue protecting the jersey tomorrow.”

How it happened:

A group of six riders drove off the front without too much resistence on the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

With no general classification threat amongst them, the peloton, led by ORICA-GreenEDGE, allowed them a generous 13minute advantage.

The intensity behind them stepped up with the Australian outfit at the fore and the margin had reduced to nine minutes after 80km of racing.

Tinkoff-Saxo joined the efforts at the head of the peloton on another day that suited yesterday’s winner Peter Sagan.

With 50km to go the gap had dropped to less than three minutes and eventually the remnants of the break were swept up in the final 15km ready for the fireworks in the final five kilometres.

The solo attacks began at the bottom of the ramp with four kilometres to go but were shut down in the two kilometres to come. Then, Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing) put in a dangerous move with Nicholas Roche (Team Sky) but they were too caught just ahead of the line.

Eventually it was the timing of Valverde that was too good for yesterday’s winner Sagan.