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"I checked some of the main climbs in this Vuelta and especially the Andorra stage. It is extremely difficult. My initial goal is to finish in the Top 20. A Top 10 finish would be a dream."

Photo: Sirotti

ESTEBAN CHAVES

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TEAM JAYCO ALULA (FORKERT)

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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23.08.2015 @ 21:30 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Colombian Esteban Chaves has won the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana, the biggest win of his young career, to move into the race lead today. The 25-year-old traded blows with fellow attackers on the final 2.5km climb to the first summit finish of the 2015 Tour.

 

Eventually he proved too strong for Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) in the final metres to claim the victory and a five-second overall lead for Orica-GreenEDGE.

 

“It’s an amazing feeling,” an ecstatic Chaves said. “I want to say thanks to all of my teammates, all the staff, this is unbelievable. It’s really important. It’s the most important victory of my life. The first road stage of the Vuelta and to take the red jersey… it’s unbelievable. The team have all the confidence in me and they did the best today. Thank you mates!”

 

When asked if he can keep the race lead, the 2014 Tour de Suisse and Tour of California stage winner produced his trademark big smile and some fighting words.

 

“I hope!” he laughed. “I want to leave skin on the road to keep the red jersey. This is the reason I am a rider, I will try to stay in front for as long as possible. We worked really hard after the Giro d’Italia and after Suisse and this is the compensation.

 

A day like this is just unbelievable. It's also the reward for two years of very hard work. It's also my first win on a Grand Tour, it will stay with me always.

 

"I knew that the last climb was an explosive one and that I should be ideally placed at the foot. My team-mates made a perfect job. I tell them thanks mates! I was feeling very well.

 

"When I came back on the Quintana group, I didn't know whether the others were stronger than me but finally I managed to beat everyone and to get rid of the most solid one, Tom Dumoulin.

 

 

When I had this accident at the Laigueglia Trophy in 2013, I suffered multiple fractures to the skull, the right shoulder. I had several operations in Colombia and the most difficult part was to repair my maimed nerves. For long months I could no longer move let alone ride a bike. Today I only recovered 80 pc of the mobility in my left arm but it does not hamper my riding.

 

 

"Obviously the goal is now different. A leader's jersey on the back makes you fly and it changes things for the future. My first goal was to complete the 21 days. I knew  the first week was very difficult with very tricky stages. I wanted to make sure not to lose more than two or three minutes before we reached the second week and the mountains.

 

"I checked some of the main climbs in this Vuelta and especially the Andorra stage. It is extremely difficult. My initial goal is to finish in the Top 20. A Top 10 finish would be a dream.

 

"I really do feel well within this team. At first, it was a little difficult because I did not speak the language but as soon as I improved I discovered Australian and Colombian cultures are very similar. They are a great bunch of riders, I get along with them very well and they're also extremely professional."

 

Adding to the reward, Chaves also leads the green sprint classification, mountain polka dot jersey and white combination competition. Sharing Chaves’ joy was a thrilled Neil Stephens.

 

“It was a really good job from the boys,” the sport director said. “The plan was for them to leave Esteban in an ideal position with four kilometres to go and they did a really good job with that.

 

“The real priority was to stay around the mark with the general classification guys but I had a chat with him this morning and said at any time throughout the Vuelta there is going to be situations that could also be a possibility for a stage win and to take the initiative. That’s something only he can do and he rode really smart in the final there.”

 

Stephens credited the climber’s hard work and dedication; particularly having returned from a near career ending injury just two years ago.

 

“At 500m to go I said to Esteban ‘I know how hard you have worked for this’ and to take advantage of the situation," Stephens said. “He knows how much he has worked for it, I think a lot of people know how much he has had to work for it and it is just great that he can take the benefit today.

 

"It's only an anecdote in terms of the GC and Esteban's progression. Of course there was the stage victory and it's an extraordinary icing on the cake. But believe me, tomorrow will be another day."

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