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EF Education-Nippo: Chaves poised to turn consistency into wins

LE CREUSOT FRANCE JULY 02 Esteban Chaves of Colombia and Team BikeExchange at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 7 a 2491km km stage from Vierzon to Le Creusot 369m LeTour TDF2021 on July 02 2021 in Le Creusot France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) at the Tour de France 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

EF Education-Nippo has confirmed that it has signed Esteban Chaves for the 2022 season, expressing that with the health issues behind him the team now expects a resurgence from the Colombian rider. 

Chaves has been riding with the Australian squad, no known as Team BikeExchange, since 2014 making his step into the WorldTour ranks with the team. There he won Il Lombardia and stepped onto the podium of both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España in 2016, spurring hopes that he would develop into a Grand Tour winner. However, after that health problems took a toll. The rider took a large chunk of the 2018 season off after being diagnosed with mononucleosis and has not bounced back to the same level since. 

Still there have been signs of improvement in 2021 with a second place and the stage win at the Volta a Catalunya back in March and top ten finishes in the overall across all his stage races this year, with the exception of the Tour de France where he delivered a career best for the race, 13th place. 

"It’s our view that Esteban will have a great next few years," EF Education-Nippo CEO Jonathan Vaughters said in a statement. "He’s overcome his health issues and showed this year he has consistency. We feel that he’s poised to break out and turn that consistency into wins. He’ll fit right into the nature of our team, which places human qualities of any rider, at the top of the list.”

As reported on Cyclingnews in July, Chaves will replace Sergio Higuita who is moving over to Bora-Hansgrohe. At EF Education-Nippo he will ride alongside compatriot Rigoberto Urán and also British rider Hugh Carthy, who have been spearheading the team's GC charge. Urán this year came second in the Tour de Suisse before going on to finish tenth overall at the Tour de France while Carthy finished eighth in the Giro d’Italia after last year stepping onto the podium at the  Vuelta a España

“I wanted to join the EF Pro Cycling for several reasons,” Chaves said in a statement. ”First of all, from the outside you can see it is like a big family where everyone is driven by the passion of cycling. Also, one of the directors is a rider I really admired when I started riding my bike – Juanma Garate – and finally I would love to have Colombian teammates.”

He then jokingly added: “But most importantly, the cycling kit is really cool, don't you think?”

It will be the first time since 2014, when Chaves joined the Australian squad, that the 31 year old has headed to a new team. While he has stayed on through many years and sponsorship changes it was fairly clear at the start of this season that the pressure was on for him to deliver at Team BikeExchange this contract year.

Chaves, 31, said he’s now looking forward to rediscovering the sport in a new environment. 

“I’m excited about everything! New bike, new kit, new teammates, new helmet, new races, new challenges. I feel like a neo pro again.”