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Chaves wins and takes overall lead in dramatic finish to stage 3 of Abu Dhabi Tour

Sat 10 Oct 2015

Two-time 2015 Vuelta a Espana stage winner Esteban Chaves has continued his blistering end-of-season form to take the queen stage victory and overall lead in a dramatic finale on day three at the Abu Dhabi Tour.

The Colombian attacked an elite group of surviving riders on the final climb with a little over five kilometres to ride. He remained alone before being caught inside the last kilometre by Wout Poels (Team Sky).

As the pair approached the final metres, Poels slid and crashed off his bike on the last corner, Chaves streaming through to take the win.

"It was a very hard climb, and even harder in the heat,” Chaves said after the race. “The first part was hard, the final kilometres less so, but you needed to have the legs.”

“We are in the middle of the desert and the temperatures were unbelievable, so it was important to keep my body temperature down. The team was great. They worked hard for me all day, bringing me water and ice for my back and head. I poured 30 to 35 bottles of water on my body.

“I am really happy with this win. It was a hard climb, but I did not raise my hands in celebration because the rider in front of me crashed, and it would not have been correct to celebrate.”

After a breakthrough fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana, Chaves enters tomorrow’s final day of racing with a 16second race lead from Fabio Aru (Astana Team).

“It’s not a surprise that Esteban is flying,” sport director Matt White said. “He was good in Beijing at this time last year after the Vuelta, and he is at another level this year.”

“It was always going to be a bit of a death march up the final climb for the majority of the group and it’s becoming a bit of a habit of Esteban’s to attack when no one is expecting.

“When he got caught by Woet Poels it was going to go either way. Then Wout has gone in a little too hot on the last corner and has paid the price. Esteban obviously showed he was the best guy on the climb and I think it was a well-deserved win.

“With the group we have here and the way they have been looking after Esteban up until this point, I’m confident we can hold on tomorrow.”

How it happened

Day three of the Abu Dhabi Tour was dubbed as a ‘medium mountain stage’ by organisers, but ORICA-GreenEDGE was expecting a tough and elite battle on the final climb.

Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team - Al Ahli Club) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) took up the early duties in the break but never threatened as the general classification outfits thrived on their day to take centre stage.

The duo held a one-minute advantage at the start of the final climb – an 11km ascent at an average of 7% with steep ramps of 12%.

Astana led the chase hard and had the race back together and front group down to just 30riders with eight kilometres remaining.

Nibali was the first to attack with 5.5km to go. The Italian was first joined by Poels, and later by Chaves, who bridged and immediately attacked.

Nibali briefly joined the 25-year-old before dropping behind. The composite of the chase changed shape on a number of occasions as Chaves rode out to a 20second advantage.

It was Poels who looked most likely to hose down the bold move of the ORICA-GreenEDGE rider and the pair eventually came together in the final kilometre.

Poels led Chaves narrowly into the final corner, just metres before the line, but slid out and crashed. Chaves claimed the stage victory ahead of Aru for the overall lead.

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