#insideOGE: Esteban Chaves, Giro d'Italia Stage 1 TTT

Sun 10 May 2015

Welcome to the third edition of #insideOGE and the first edition from the 2015 Giro d’Italia.

Uniquely captured by the magnificent lens of ‘Kramon’, #insideOGE opens up the doors to ORICA-GreenEDGE to bring you the stories you don’t otherwise see or hear.

To view previous editions of the series, use the links below.

#insideOGE: Sam Bewley, Paris-Roubaix
#insideOGE: Luke Durbridge, Gent Wevelgem

Welcome back #insideOGE. We hope you enjoy.

As ORICA-GreenEDGE and Australia enjoyed the success of yesterday’s team time trial victory at the Giro d’Italia, there was much to celebrate and even more to report.

Back-to-back opening stage wins at the Italian Grand Tour, the success of the Australian outfit and it’s core group in the specialist discipline, the addition of the Maglia Rosa to the impressive palmares of Simon Gerrans and of course, the analysis of how long we can keep it.

Whilst the playful smile of Esteban Chaves attracted some attention with his podium celebrations, captured above by ‘Kramon’, the Colombian’s unique day in the office went under the radar. 

It’s one he describes as survival, and it’s one that is worth a read.

“I’m safe!” Chaves said with a laugh when we asked what his first thoughts were having crossed the finish line of yesterday’s 17.6km stage.

“Now I can rest, relax and now I can start the race normal for me, no TTT, no survivor, I have done it.”

The first of the 21 stages at the Giro d’Italia was a mission in itself for Chaves.

The 25-year-old was giving 25kg to the likes of ORICA-GreenEDGE’s time trial specialists who were gunning hard for victory. Not to mention with the added pressure of being outright favourites.

Win they did, and survive Chaves did, a bizarre sensation for the pint-sized rider.

“The word is survivor,” Chaves said. “It’s a strange feeling. We won, but I was no help to the team, nothing, I didn’t push one metre.” 

“In the bus before the start you could feel the tension, the pressure. It was a really good team for the victory and we were the favourites. The tension was in the ambiance.

“I am really small and was a bit scared. You look at these guys and they are 80kg, Brett (Lancaster), Sam (Bewley) or Heppy (Michael Hepburn). I weigh 55kg. It was really really really nervous.”

Sport director Matt White laid out the strategy earlier in the week. Chaves would not take a turn.

With general classification not a consideration for the ORICA-GreenEDGE team this Grand Tour it was 100%, full gas, on the line for the stage victory.

And just as a rider like Brett Lancaster wouldn’t be expected to win a mountaintop stage with a climber, Chaves wouldn’t be asked to contribute alongside the likes of Olympic team pursuit medalists in the team time trial.

So the quietly spoken Colombian would occupy the last position in the team train for the entire journey, his role, ironically, a vocal one.

“When the guys were coming back from a turn, I would say ‘IN’ for them to slot in, in front of me,” Chaves explained.

“That was my work. That and Surviving.

“Whitey said ‘if you lose the wheel we will not wait for you, we will wait for nothing.’”

Despite the assistance of a head win on race day, it was far from cruising for the 2014 Tour of California and Tour de Suisse stage winner.

“The route was really narrow and in the corners when you stay in the last wheel, you suffer more than the first guys because of the elastic effect,” Chaves said. “I knew coming into the corners I had to push with everything I had in myself to stay with the guys.”

“When we trained a couple of days ago, I suffered trying to stay in the back but actually in the race I felt really good. At the checkpoint, I thought to myself, I can finish with these guys. I had good legs, a good finish and I am really happy.

“Happy but like I said, I know I didn’t help.”

Just as fond of Chaves as he is of the team, there was no question from the entire group that he was as much part of the win as the next guy.

“You look at the photo from the podium or sitting at the dinner table with the guys and I feel I am part of the group,” Chaves said.

“To finish with these guys is special.

“The people think this is an individual sport but it is not like this. It is a real team sport. When all the team is on the podium, you feel the group, you feel the friends and you feel the work of everyone.”

If you haven't seen it, take at look at the on-bike camera footage from Esteban Chaves here.

Stay tuned for more #insideOGE from the Giro d'Italia.