Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) lost over a minute and slipped down four spots in the overall classification after a late-race mechanical during stage 3 that finished on the climb to La Laguna Negra de Vinuesa at the Vuelta a España.
Chaves was part of the select front group on the final climb but punctured with five kilometres to go and was forced to pull over and twice change bikes. He then continued to limit his losses, and eventually finished 1:06 down on stage winner Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation).
“I had good legs, just bad luck," Chaves said after the race. “I punctured, and with the disc wheels we can’t take the wheel from a teammate so I took the bike of Tsgabu [Grmay], a pretty high one. In that moment, it was unbelievable because everyone is losing the wheel, the cars are really back, back behind, so I needed to wait with Tsgabu’s bike until [the car] could give me my bike and try to do the best to the finish line."
After a running push from Grmay, Chaves rode on Grmay’s bike for what appeared to be a few hundred metres and was forced to stand and pedal because the bike’s saddle height was too tall for him. He also had help getting back to the bunch by teammate Nick Schultz.
When it was safe for his team car to move forward, Mitchelton-Scott Directeur Julian Dean pulled ahead as the mechanic got out to help Chaves with a second bike change, back to his own, properly-fitted machine.
“You need to stay calm, not panic. We have a really good directeur here, Julian Dean, in the radio keeping me calm because if you panic you’re stuffed," Chaves said.
“One minute with two bike changes and four kilometres to the finish line, it was not bad. We need to keep the good sensations in mind, there’s a long way to the finish of the race.”
Chaves started stage 3 in fourth overall at 17 seconds behind overall race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), but due to his untimely mechanical he now sits eighth overall at 1:29 back heading into stage 4’s 191.7km race from Garray to Ejea de los Caballeros on Friday.
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