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Colombia defends Tour de l'Avenir title

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Esteban Chaves (Colombia) leads the bunch on top of the Col de Bonne Fontaine

Esteban Chaves (Colombia) leads the bunch on top of the Col de Bonne Fontaine (Image credit: Lutgarde Dekens)
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Johan Esteban Chaves signs a polka dot jersey

Johan Esteban Chaves signs a polka dot jersey (Image credit: ASO/P.Perreve)

A Colombian rider has again won the overall Tour de l'Avenir. One year after his teammate and countryman Nairo Quintana, Johan Chaves of Colombia es Pasion took control of the general classification on Sunday's last stage in Alba, Italy, beating Canadian rider David Boily by some 17 seconds.

Chaves, who at first rode after the mountains jersey, became the team's strongest man after defending champion Quintana crashed in Friday's stage to Le Salève. "I'm overjoyed," the 21-year-old told L'Equipe after taking the overall win. Chaves, also nicknamed "Mosquito" for his small size, could well be one of the next great Colombian riders, following the footsteps of Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra - at least, that is what his team has set out to do in Europe.

Indeed, it is the firm objective of Colombia es Pasion to integrate such prestigious events as the Tour de France in a few years time. To do this, the Professional Continental squad also including Victor Hugo Peña has curiously decided to downgrade to Continental level next year - an explicable move according to team manager Luisa Fernanda Rios.

"This year, we mixed young and old riders in the team, but it didn't work out too well," Rios said. "So, for next season, we have decided to keep only the young ones and return to Continental. First, we have to finish their training and then come back amongst the pros. We'd like to step up to Professional Continental in 2013 and be invited to the Tour de France at that point in time."

Chaves, who naturally also dreams of the Tour, finished 19th in the Route d'Adélie and 15th of the Giro dell'Appennino this year.