Orica-GreenEdge's Colombian climber Esteban Chaves is hoping to follow his breakout 2015 season with a run at the Giro d'Italia's general classification this year. He's also targeting the Vuelta a Espana and the Olympic Games in Rio.
The 26-year-old launched himself into the spotlight last year during the Vuelta a Espana, where he won two stages and wore the red leader's jersey for six days. Chaves continued his success at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour, winning a stage there and taking the overall.
Chaves suffered a career threatening injury in 2013 when he crashed at Trofeo Laigueglia, suffering a compound fracture to his right collarbone, his left petrous bone, cheekbone, sinuses and sphenoid. He also had pulmonary compressions and suspected rib fractures.
But the tough Colombian with the boyish features came back in 2014 with Orica-GreenEdge, taking stage wins at the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse. Now he's targeting success at the Italian Grand Tour in May.
"I'm really looking forward to doing the Giro d'Italia this year, and it's a really important objective for me and the team," he said. "I hope to be able to race at a really good level and we are targeting a result in the GC.
"I really love racing in Italy, and the Giro is always something very special. We're all looking forward to continue Orica-GreenEdge's great experiences at this amazing race."
Team director Matt White said Chaves is rapidly developing into a legitimate GC contender, and with the experience of leading the Vuelta for six days he’s a viable option for the Giro’s general classification.
"We saw him do a fantastic Vuelta last year, and this year he’ll be our protected leader in the Giro," White said. "He still has a lot of development potential in the Grand Tours, but he's definitely ready to take another big step towards the GC.
"The Giro is a race that means a lot to us as a team and with Esteban in top shape, we'll have a strong card to play over the course of three hard weeks."
Orica-GreenEdge won the opening time trial at the Giro the past two years, keeping the leader's jersey for four days.
Chaves is expected to start his 2015 season at Tirreno-Adriatico beginning March 9.
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