Chaves eyes racing return at the Tour Colombia in February

Mitchelton-Scott's Esteban Chaves is hoping to return to racing early in the new season, once he's recovered from mononucleosis, and is eyeing his national Tour, the Tour Colombia, as a possible place to begin racing again, which new world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) are also set to ride.

Chaves has been out of action since finishing the 2018 Giro d'Italia in May in an unusually lowly 72nd place overall. The 28-year-old fell dramatically out of contention on stage 10 of the Giro, losing 25 minutes to his main rivals and slipping from second place overall to 39th, before falling further down the classification as the race went on, while riding to assist his teammate Simon Yates.

"Now everything's fine, although it has been a difficult time," Chaves said on Spanish website "Once we found out that it was mononucleosis, we could treat it, and we're continuing to control it, and then it's just a case of believing and continuing to dream, as always."

Following a number of tests following the Giro, Mitchelton-Scott revealed that, besides the mononucleosis, Chaves had also been suffering with allergy reactions and sinus problems, with the Colombian undergoing surgery for the latter.

When asked whether he may race at the Tour Colombia – the new name for what was run as the Colombia Oro y Paz this season, won by Sky's Egan Bernal – Chaves appeared enthusiastic to race in front of a home crowd.

"I'd like to be able to race with Mitchelton-Scott or to be part of a Colombian national team. We hope to be able to put it on my race programme in some way," Chaves said, and will likely know more at his Australian WorldTour team's December get-together, where the riders will map out their 2019 race programmes.

The 2018 Giro may be the last race that Chaves rode before getting sick, but he also won a stage there, taking victory on Mount Etna on stage 6 after crossing the finish line alongside Yates, who took over the race lead.

Chaves had begun his season well with a stage win and overall victory at the Herald Sun Tour in Australia in February, off the back of what had been a disappointing 2017 season, results-wise.

He'll now hope to return to his 2016 level, when Chaves won a stage and finished second overall – behind Vincenzo Nibali – at the Giro, and then took third overall at the Vuelta a España ahead of winning both the Giro dell'Emilia and Il Lombardia, which remains the biggest victory of the Colombian's career so far.

"You have to smile, and always look forward," Chaves said, with typical enthusiasm, "as life is not about sitting and crying and watching opportunities pass you by. It's about finding them and creating them." 

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