Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) is known for his happy-go-lucky approach to racing. The Colombian climber manages to enjoy life and uses his positive energy to fight the daily pain and suffering of a Grand Tour.
Chaves is rightly considered an overall contender for the Giro d'Italia after his impressive results and fifth overall in the Vuelta a Espana. He is currently eighth overall after a disappointing time trial on Sunday but showed his form and intentions by jumping away with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on the climb above Asolo in stage 11.
The move came to nought but Chaves showed he was attentive at a very tactical Giro d'Italia.
"We arrived in the first group, so this is really important. It is one more day gone. Always in the Giro d'Italia something happens. This is the beautiful of this race but it's not predictable in any way," he said quietly and calmly while sat on steps of the Orica-GreenEdge team bus after the stage.
"You always you need to be up in the front, keep the concentration and stay focused with the team. It is 21 days of big pressure, and you saw today there are moves … it is hard."
Chaves did not hesitate when Nibali jumped away on the descent of the Forcella Mostaccin climb. He revealed why he is especially careful to keep an eye on Nibali.
"I remember I lost the Giro di Lombardia last year because Nibali attacked on the descent. Like with a dog: once bitten, twice shy. I hope that never happens to me again, so that's why I try to stay behind the big guys, behind him and Valverde, because for me they are the two biggest riders here."
With help and support from Orica-GreenEdge, Chaves has fought to limit his losses so far during the Giro d'Italia, knowing that his chance to shine will arguably come in the big mountain stages of the final week. Due to a mix of fatigue and focus his smile has been replaced with a look of concentration.
"I am calm; I'm not excited, I'm just feeling the fatigue in the middle of the Giro and know that the more important days are coming – the hardest days," he explained.
"I know you need to save energy when you can and stay calm, so in the final climb the better you can be. We need to stay calm in the head because there are a lot of kilometres of mountains to come in the next week."
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