Under normal circumstances, Esteban Chaves would be racing Amstel Gold this weekend, with his form and fitness neatly dialed towards the Ardennes Classics. Instead, the Colombian climber is in lockdown in Bogota, flittering his time between Zwift rides and keeping his morale high.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider watched on last week as the ASO and UCI rather brazenly unveiled their calendar 2.0 but, when it comes to deciding on his season objectives, the former Giro d’Italia runner up remains cautious.
After all, Colombia has been on lockdown for a considerable time owing to the coronavirus pandemic, with international flights shut down and the situation in mainland Europe hardly any better. Colombia’s current restrictions will last until at least April 27 but Chaves expects them to drift into May and is understandably cautious over whether even jumping on the first flight to Europe is the best idea.
"It depends if my goals are at the start or the end of the new season but the team are thinking about our health and our wellbeing," he told Cyclingnews from his Bogota base.
"It’s hard to say that as soon as the borders are open that we’ll just take the first flight we can. That comes with risk. At the moment everything is closed in Colombia. There are no flights. Nothing.
"I try and train twice a day because I don’t like training for too long on the trainer. I’ll do an hour to an hour and a half in the morning and then the same again later in the day."
The UCI and ASO last week announced their plans to move the Tour de France to late August and September. There are no set dates for the Giro or the Vuelta but even planning a Tour at this point has raised questions over public health.
Chaves understands the need for cycling to bounce back but was surprised by the speed at which the governing bodies plotted a new course.
"I’ve seen that the UCI have put together some dates with ASO but for me it’s pretty early to do this because everything is still uncertain and we have no idea what will happen," Chaves said.
"Everything has been changing pretty fast, especially in the countries in Europe like France, Italy and Spain, so for me it was a bit of an early call. We’ll see but, at the moment, the priority for every rider is to keep your morale high and your family healthy. We need to show solidarity."
Along with lockdown, Chaves and his teammates have had to come to terms with pay cuts. Several teams - not just Mitchelton-Scott - have reduced rider salaries in recent weeks and the expectancy is that most of the WorldTour squads will be forced to take similar action.
"I think it’s completely normal in this situation," Chaves told Cyclingnews.
"Sponsors are all in the same position and factories are closing all around the world. People are losing their jobs and not being hired. We need to make decisions based on that, as a team, and stick together.
"Cycling isn’t the biggest thing in the world and this situation with the pandemic effects every corner of the world, and every aspect of the world. Every economy, every sport, every factor has been touched by this and we have to realise this."
Editor in Chief - Cyclingnews.
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