Orica-GreenEdge team owner Gerry Ryan was at the Giro d'Italia for the final stages of the race to witness Esteban Chaves take the maglia rosa and then lose it Vincenzo Nibali on the last mountain stage to Sant'Anna di Vinadio on Saturday.
As the Giro d'Italia ended in Turin, the Australian businessman revealed he was disappointed to go so close to securing Orica-GreenEdge's first ever Grand Tour victory but proud of what Chaves and the team have achieved.
"I'm a little bit disappointed that he didn't keep the pink jersey but realistically looking at it, a champion beat him," Ryan told Cyclingnews before celebrating with the team after the conclusion of the race.
"Running second in this tour is something special. It is probably our best performance as a team yet. As Chaves said to me after the race, 'Gerry, this is only the beginning' He's right. This result gives the whole team confidence and confirmation that we're working well. It gives our sponsors exposure and repays in kind after they've been good to us over the years, especially Orica. It also gives the fans lots to cheerful."
Orica-GreenEdge signed Chaves as he was recovering from his accident at the 2013 Trofeo Laigueglia that almost ended his career. He needed surgery to rebuild the nerves in his arm but the team believed in the Grand Tour potential he had shown when he won the 2011 Tour de l'Avenir stage race.
"I'm a believer in management, planning and gradually bringing the riders to where we want to be. We always think three years out and now it's happening with Esteban," Ryan explained.
"We signed him after his big accident, when nobody else wanted him. He's always been grateful to us and we're happy to have him. He's a great rider on the bike but also a great person off the bike. I've been around a lot of sports over the years and Esteban is one of the most humble athletes I've ever met. Of course he's also very determined and very talented, so that makes him very special. He's so relaxed and so everyone around him is relaxed too. Just to see the bond between the guys is amazing. They dug deeper then ever for him because of who he is."
Now for the Tour de France
Chaves is expected to target the Vuelta a Espana in the second half of the 2016 season and will be a favourite after his performance at the Giro d'Italia and his break through performance in the 2015 Vuelta a Espana when he won two stages and finished fifth overall. The Orica-GreenEdge team plan to target stage victory at the Tour de France with Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans. Adam Yates is also set to ride the Tour de France, with Ryan hoping that his twin brother Simon will soon be cleared of any wrong doing after he tested positive for the asthma drug Terbutaline. The team claims the doctor had made an oversight by failing to request a Therapeutic Use Exemption for the drug.
"We've got to wait for and see the final outcome. Hopefully they will look upon what happened as a genuine mistake. Simon is staying focused and looking to ride the Tour," Ryan explained. "We're going to the Tour de France without a real GC contender but we've certainly got riders who can target stage wins on different terrain."