Michelton-Scott stage race specialist Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) has ruled himself out of the fight for the GC in the Volta a Catalunya, stating categorically, "We have two leaders here, and they are the Yates brothers."
"The team will support them at the Volta a Catalunya and we will try for the GC with them," Chaves told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2. "But it's not only Movistar who are the favourites, there are lots of teams here with good GC options and we are one of them."
Chaves' early season has had two significant high points, with victory in the Herald SunTour this January and then a strong time trial in Paris-Nice that placed him in the top 10 on GC and which he described as one of his best ever, having done a lot of hard work in the wind tunnel. On the last day, however, after working hard for teammate and overnight Paris-Nice leader Simon Yates, he finished the outside the time limit.
In Catalunya, Chaves has different goals and whilst retaining his innate optimism, he was categorical about the limited nature of his own chances for GC.
"We are one of the strong teams here. I feel all right, but it's still only the second stage, ask me again on Sunday about how I feel. Catalunya is always a hard race because everyone is supermotivated, for most riders, it's the first GC World Tour race they do, so everybody is hungry.
"It's also [going to be] cold and that's not really good for some riders, so we'll see what happens."
Asked if he was biding his time until the Giro d'Italia to hit top form, Chaves argued, "everything is important in this kind of cycling you know. We needed a good start in Australia, because we're an Australian team, in the Tour Down Under and Herald Sun Tour. Now, we need to continue."
The Volta a Catalunya is Chaves' only race in the first half of the season where he rides alongside both Yates brothers. The Colombian, who finished as runner-up in the Giro d'Italia in 2016, will head to altitude camp for the rest of the spring, before flying "straight to Israel for the start of the Giro."
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