Vuelta a España: Chaves impresses on first summit finish
Colombian moves to fifth overall
On the first summit finish of the 2014 Vuelta a España, Orica-GreenEdge's Esteban Chaves showed that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won't be the only Colombian climbers to watch when the roads head upwards.
The 24-year-old was in a select group fighting for the stage six win and race leader's red jersey alongside Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Christopher Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) until the final 500 metres of the category one finish in Cumbres Verdes before fading to seventh on the day.
Valverde's stage win saw him take over the race lead for the second time in the race as Chaves' teammate Michael Matthews ended his stint in red.
Orica-GreenEdge's sport director Neil Stephens explained there were two distinct plans for the day and team executed both of them.
"We had plans for Adam Yates to try to get up for the stage win and also Esteban was also going to work to maintain his position in general classification," Stephens said on the team website.
"The team again did another fantastic job to lead the pair through the streets of Granada and position them at the front for the last climb. For the first two kilometers they were both there amongst the action, the heat and extreme velocity of the climb then got the better of Adam.
"Esteban did really well to maintain himself with the best climbers in the world until the final kilometre, losing a few seconds at the end."
Chaves is making his grand tour debut at the the Vuelta and after six days of racing sits in fifth place overall, 41 seconds down on Valverde.
"He is only 24-years-old and coming back from a year out with an injury last year," he said of Chaves who is in his first season with the team.
"It’s a bit early to tell how things will go from here, that was just one uphill finish and there are some very demanding mountain stages to come but so far so good."
The team has targeted stage wins in its previous grand tours and the focus on Chaves' GC ambitions is a new challenge, but one the team was embracing added Stephens.
"It was really nice to see the boys riding through Granada at the front of the peloton with the leader of the bike race amongst them," he said mentioning Matthews' who worked hard on the front of the peloton setting tempo.
"We won a stage, we defended the lead for a few days and now we have other goals," Stephens said of the first six stages. "We are trying to find other stages on the way and really look after Esteban. Holding the lead was one part of the Tour of Spain and we look forward to the next part."
Stage seven is a hilly route from Alhendin to Alcaudete with the peloton encountering a category three and category two climb before an uphill finish which is expected to suit a breakaway.
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By Josh Croxton