Following a year compromised by injury, in 2018 Esteban Chaves is aiming to repeat the heights of his 2016 season that included two Grand Tour podiums and Il Lombardia victory.
The 27-year-old Colombian though is well aware of the fragility of life as a cyclist, and in general, and it is taking his approach to May's Giro d'Italia day by day. A similar approach and philosophy of 'día por día' as compatriot Rigoberto Uran takes.
Second overall at the Tour Down Under last year proved a false omen for Chaves as his debut in the Australian summer of racing preceded a lingering knee injury that would ultimately hinder his Tour de France debut. Victory then at the 2016 Herald Sun Tour is no assurance of a successful year ahead but the win was an important one regardless. The Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana are Chaves' two major general classification aims in 2018. In 2016, Chaves was second at the Giro and then placed third at the Vuelta.
"For the team, not just me, it is really good. The start of the season with the national championship, the Tour Down Under, and the Herald Sun Tour," Chaves told Cyclingnews of Mitchelton-Scott's winning start Down Under.
Prior to his 17-kilometre solo raid to Lake Mountain, named after an explorer rather than a body of water, to set up his overall Herald Sun Tour win, May was the earliest that Chaves had won a race. Asked then at the Herald Sun Tour if result or performance had greater importance, Chaves simply replied "both".
With his quality and characteristics well known, Chaves won't be flying under the radar en route to Israel for the Grand Partenze. Although Chaves admits he feels "expectation always", with Mitchelton-Scott "you never feel pressure" and previous experience will assist his bid for three-week success.
Mapping out his pathway to the Giro, on paper Chaves' route to the Corsa Rosa features several different races compared to his approach in 2015 and 2016. Chaves though is quick to add the caveat that "we are not robots, we are human," and his programme is open to changes. As it stands, the 'Race to the Sun' will be Chaves' first race on European soil for 2018.
"I do Paris-Nice, it is one race I never do, and after we do Catalunya and then like two years ago, we go for a training camp in altitude and then back for the Giro," he said. "It is different because we go to Paris-Nice but it is the same kind of race more or less. It would never be the same even if it is Tirreno.
"Every year is different and every year you are learning and open to learning and this is what we do here. We come here in Australia and also train in altitude here to be chill and focus. It is a great start to the season for us."
With his first win since October 2016 in the pocket, Chaves' bid for Giro success is on track. The foundation is laid for the first Grand Tour of the year but Chaves knows well that one swallow does not a summer make.
"This is in May and a lot of things can happen," he said of the Giro. "We try to do the best and try to cover all the things we can cover like always. We try to arrive there with the best position we have with the best performance we can and try to smash. Try to do the best we can as a team."