Orica-Scott has confirmed that Esteban Chaves will miss next week’s Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco, having recently returned to training after a knee injury. The Colombian climber, 27, is hoping to challenge Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) at the Tour de France later this summer.
Chaves has not raced since the Herald Sun Tour in February and he was looking to line up for País Vasco next week. However, a bout of tendonitis has scuppered his early season programme. The Volta a Catalunya was scratched for the climber's schedule earlier in March and the Tour of Romandie in late April may also be out of the picture after a lay-off that has lasted several weeks.
Chaves kick started his season at the Tour Down Under, where he finished second overall. The Sun Tour, and ninth overall, followed but he was absent from the Colombian nationals after the knee injury flared up for the first time.
"I am really disappointed to miss the national championships tomorrow," he said at the time.
“I was looking forward to making my elite debut in my home town. But it is a long season and we needed to take the decision to fix any little problems now so we can continue with the plan this year without trouble."
With Orica not racing a full programme of stage races in – other than the Giro d'Italia – Chaves could return to racing in June, at the Critérium du Dauphiné, and although he is no stranger to blocks of non-competitive cycling during the season the team are hoping to ease him back into racing. The plan is for him to remain in Colombia for the next few weeks as he builds his stamina and finds form. Cyclingnews understands that the team and medical staff have taken a cautious approach with the Tour de France still the main target.
Cyclingnews understands that there is little to no chance of Adam or Simon Yates forgoing the Giro d'Italia and racing the Tour de France as a GC contender with the siblings set to lead the Australian team in Italy regardless of Chaves' form.
Should Chaves be unable to challenge for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France the team may instead shift the emphasis onto stage hunting – as they have in previous years – and give their younger riders more experience with Chaves scaling back his ambitions in the race. Chaves and the Yates brothers are set to ride the Vuelta a Espana later in the season.