With two Grand Tour podium finishes and top place in the Giro di Lombardia, Arek Peryt gives us a rundown of Esteban Chaves’s fantastic season.
Esteban Chaves followed up on his breakthrough season in 2015 with an outstanding 2016. The 26-year-old from Tenjo, just outside Bogotá, obtained two podium places in the Grand Tours and the victory in the Giro di Lombardia on the first of October.
Chavito started the season quietly, not showing much inspiration in the spring classics, Tirreno-Adriatico or Volta a Catalunya. He opted to spend more time training back home on the roads around Tenjo afterwards. That meant that as he wheeled off the stand to take on the 10km long opening time-trial in the Giro d’Italia, he was ready to take on the cycling world.
Esteban Chaves climbed with the strongest, didn’t lose time on the flat, and even held the pink jersey as late as stage 20, however Vincenzo Nibali and his light blue Astana Pro Team armada proved a bit too strong. The cheerful Colombian won the queen stage and sealed his first podium place in a Grand Tour, finishing in the second spot.
After the successful Giro d’Italia, Chaves again kept a low-profile until he got to the starting line of this year’s Vuelta d’España. Together with Nairo he conquered Spain, managing to beat fading star Alberto Contador to finish third in the Spanish race, behind Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome, claiming another Grand Tour podium spot.
Carrying on his form, the Colombian went on to win the Giro dell’Emilia on Italian soil, but the best was yet to come. They are often referred to as monuments and there are only five of them in a cycling year. The most important of the one-day classic races, where a victory gets you a place in cycling history. Elusive even for riders like Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador or Miguel Induraín. However, this year, for the first time in the 110-year history of the race, a non-European rider has won the Giro di Lombardia. And it was Esteban Chaves who did it.
His final attack came about 25 kilometres from the finish line when only his compatriot Rigoberto Urán and Italy’s Diego Rosa could follow his wheel. The fight came down to the sprint where Chaves proved the strongest.
Chaves became the first ever Colombian rider to win a monument, in a year that also saw him win two Grand Tour podium spots and renew his contract with the Australian Team Orica-BikeExchange for three years. The Colombian has yet to define his schedule for next season, but after this successful year, we can expect big things in 2017.
World Championship cycling in Qatar
The 2016 Road World Championship Cycling is taking place in the desert of Qatar this year. The championship runs between October 9 and 16, and the escarabajos will feature in the road race. One of the favourites on the flat circuit is Fernando Gaviría. The 22-year-old from La Ceja, Antioquia will arrive in the desert in hot form after a spectacular victory in Paris-Tours on October 9. He will be seconded by Esteban Chaves, Rigoberto Urán and Jarlinson Pantano, though the precise squad is yet to be announced.
The 257.5 kilometre long Men’s Elite Road Race will take place on Sunday October 16 between 10:30am and 4:30pm local time which means the finish is expected around 8:30am Colombian time.
By Arek Peryt