Chaves wins the Queen Stage and moves up to third overall at the Giro d’Italia

Sat 21 May 2016

Colombian Esteban Chaves produced a spectacular ride for ORICA-GreenEDGE to win stage fourteen of the Giro d’Italia today, attacking repeatedly on the final climbs to distance his more fancied rivals and move up to third on the general classification.

After finishing fifth at last year's Vuelta a Espana, Chaves has made no secret about his and the team's ambitions for the Giro d’Italia and the 26-year-old chose the toughest stage of the race to make his move.

Distancing race favourites Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on the Passo Valparola, the last of six categorised climbs, Chaves continued to accelerate with Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) all the way to the finish before winning the sprint convincingly after executing a perfect approach to the line.

“After 5,000metres of climbing I’m tired but I’m really really happy,” said Chaves. “Winning the Queen stage at the Giro d’Italia is really special.”

“This is not only for me but for the team who worked really well today. I want to thank everyone involved with ORICA-GreenEDGE because this team is like a big family.”

Chaves continued to describe the key moments of the stage.

“Everyone was riding at their limits," he said. "Kruijswijk started his attack then I tried to follow. It was a steep climb and then we saw Nibali was dropped so we started to work together.”

“There is a lot of this race left and this is great but we will see what happens tomorrow.”

2015 Tour de France stage winner Ruben Plaza put in a great solo ride from the early breakaway to claim the mountain's points on the Passo Gardena and the Passo Campolongo before slipping back to the bunch to let Chaves take over.

Sport director Matt White praised the great work by the team and the wonderful performance from Chaves.

“Esteban (Chaves) rode a very very smart race today,” said White. “It was probably the hardest stage you will see in any race this year and he waited brilliantly for the perfect moments to go on the attack.”

“We definitely saw who the best climbers were because there was nowhere to hide out there today. Esteban has been feeling good and the team did another fantastic job of protecting and supporting him into the final third of the stage.

“Ruben (Plaza) rode very well in the breakaway for us. It was a hard stage to plan for because everything can change on that kind of course but in the end it worked really well for us going into the final.

“We are in a great position now going into tomorrow’s crucial uphill individual time trial.”

How it happened:

The incredibly difficult ‘Queen stage’ of the 99th Giro d’Italia got underway in dry conditions but with ominous grey clouds hanging overhead.

Lotto-Soudal took early control at the front of the peloton with several attacks attempting to form without success over the first 40kilometres. 

Eventually a large group of around forty riders went clear on the approach to the Passo Pordoi. The group included Plaza for ORICA-GreenEDGE and they had soon developed a lead of over two minutes on the peloton.

After 55kilometres of racing the breakaway had over four minutes on the bunch with Movistar now taking up the mantle of leading the chase. 

Despite a constant incline from virtually the start line, the climbing began in earnest after 65kilometres. The large group of leaders included Plaza for ORICA-GreenEDGE, Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini-Fantini) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal).

At the start of the legendary climb up the Passo Pordoi the Plaza group was six minutes 23seconds ahead of the peloton with Movistar being forced to continue the work at the front of the bunch in defence of the pink jersey of Andrey Amador. 

The breakaway group split slightly on the descent of the Pordoi with David Lopez-Garcia (Team-Sky) off the front alone.

Over seven minutes separated Lopez-Garcia and the peloton at the start of the second climb the Passo Sella. The sky rider was caught by the remnants of the Plaza group with Plaza the next rider to attack on the Passo Gardena. 

Pushing on alone the ORICA-GreenEDGE rider claimed the mountain points at the summit with 20seconds on the chasing Lopez-Garcia and Moreno Moser (Cannondale) going into the descent.

This was proving to be a great ride by Plaza as the Spaniard continued to put the hammer down on the Passo Campolongo with three chasers 50seconds behind him and the peloton a further eight minutes down as Plaza climbed solo to again claim the mountains points.

Time trialling his way along the rolling roads between the climbs Plaza was motoring towards the iconic Passo Giau and maintaining his lead over the three groups behind. 

Plaza had a minute and a half on the first group of chasers going onto the penultimate climb with the pink jersey group at nine minutes.

Immediately reaching gradients of 14%, the Passo Giau came with 50kilometres left to race and riders were starting to get dropped from the first chasing group of Lopez-Garcia and the Chaves/Nibali main contender group. 

Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension-Data) and Darwin Atapuma (BMC) attacked from the chasing group and caught Plaza near the summit of the Passo Giau with 45kilometres to go.

The pink jersey group was also changing shape as Astana moved to the front and upped the pace with Amador immediately losing contact as the group thinned out dramatically. 

Chaves was sat in fourth wheel alongside Nibali, Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) and Valverde with race leader Amador now 45seconds off the back.

Amador managed to regain contact with the Chaves/Nibali group after a hair-raising descent ten kilometres from the final climb.

The eleven kilometre Passo Valparola was the last climb before the short Muro del Gatto just before the finish in Corvara and it was here that Nibali attacked with Kruijswijk and Chaves jumping immediately onto his wheel before Nibali went again. Valverde and Amador were now both dropped as was Uran and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff).

Uran and Majka regained contact a couple of kilometres later as Chaves began to unleash a series attacks off the front of the group. 

Kruijswijk followed suit managing to distance Nibali but Chaves stayed with the LottoNL-Jumbo rider and attacked again gaining ten seconds into the Italian Champion.

Chaves and Kruijswijk were now tearing the Valparola climb apart with Nibali falling further behind and the trio out front at 50seconds and dropping. 

Atapuma attacked over the summit and started the long descent alone as Chaves and Kruijswijk caught Siutsou and Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin). The quartet were 20seconds behind Atapuma with Nibali now taking risks on the downhill a further 38seconds behind.

Into the last ten kilometres and Chaves was driving the group forward still 20seconds down on Atapuma heading onto the short but steep Muro del Gatto. 

Siutsou was now dropped and caught by Nibali as the Chaves trio caught Atapuma in the last five kilometres.

The four riders now shaped up for the sprint with Chaves positioning himself perfectly before launching himself into the final 100metres to take a spectacular victory.

Stage fifteen takes place tomorrow with an individual uphill time trial of 10.8kilometres from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi. With an average gradient of 8% and a maximum of 11% the challenging route runs entirely uphill.



Giro d’Italia stage fourteen results:

1. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 06:06:16

2. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST

3. Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) ST


General classification after stage fourteen:

1. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) 60:12:43

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 00:00:41

3. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:01:32