Il Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves has signed a new contract extension with the Orica-BikeExchange team through to the end of the 2019 season, with Australian team indicating their commitment to Chaves is a sign of 'security for ORICA-Bike Exchange, with team owner Gerry Ryan throwing his support behind the team for the foreseeable future.'
Chaves signed a new contract in September 2015 after his impressive fifth place at the Vuelta a España but is likely to have secured a far better contract after his impressive 2016 season. He finished second overall at the Giro d'Italia after losing the pink jersey to Vincenzo Nibali on the final mountain stage, and third at the Vuelta a España behind Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome. Chaves became the first Colombian to win a Monument when he beat Diego Rosa and Rigoberto Uran to win Il Lombardia. He was the first non-European to win the final Classic of the season.
Chaves suffered a career threatening arm injury at the 2013 Trofeo Laigueglia and Orica signed him hoping he could make a comeback and rediscover the form that won him the 2011 Tour de l'Avenir. He has rapidly developed into a Grand Tour contender and is leading the transformation of the Orica-BikeExchange team along with Adam and Simon Yates.
"It has been a special three years with this team and if we continue on this line, good things will come. We have a really young team, there are a lot of strong guys under 30, so if we keep growing together over the next few years we will be really strong in all of the races," Chaves said in a statement from Orica-BikeExchange as he enjoyed the off season with his family in Europe.
"I am super happy here and it is like one family. I want to stay here with the people who gave me the opportunity when no one else gave me the opportunity or believed in me."
A Grand Tour leader
Chaves struggled to speak English when he first arrived at the Australia team but is now a leader and cornerstone of the team as it looks to the future.
"This team is special and the last week in Italy showed this," Chaves said. "We were in the last week of the season for a lot of guys but we feel like it is the first week of the season. Everyone is super excited, happy and laughing. It's not demanding for us to race or be with the team because we are all really close. It is special for me to be part of this organisation, this team and this family."
Directeur sportif Matt White said he was thrilled to have Chaves extend his commitment to the team as they develop their Grand Tour strategy together.
"For us, Esteban epitomises what this team stands for: Guts, humility and leading by example," White said. "For someone who has come through a career-threatening crash to come back and deliver on the road and then step up to lead a team in the world's biggest races, is a testimony to his character."
"Esteban didn't even speak English three years ago and now he continues to grow as a person and a rider as we continue to grow as a team around him. We are very proud and excited to have Esteban extend his journey with us."