Rider of the week
More than two years ago, in February, Esteban Chaves crashed hard in the Trofeo Laigueglia and sustained a number of injuries, one of the most important being a lesion in his brachial plexus which affected the movement in his right arm, were two nerves needed to be repaired. The surgery performed in his home country went well, but even so, he could recover only 80% of movement to the affected limb. Forced to stay more than three months out of the races, the 2011 Tour de l’Avenir champion began a long way to coming back in the sport and fulfilling his huge potential.
At the end of that season, he left Colombia-Coldeportes and signed with Orica-GreenEdge, where he slowly started to show glimpses of his talent in the form of two beautiful victories, in mountain stages of the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse. But people were expecting more from him, as the pocket-climber had enough material to be a Grand Tour protagonist. After making his debut in a three-week stage race in 2014, at the Vuelta a España, and completing the 2015 Giro d’Italia (where he got to wear the white jersey), he returned to the Spanish Grand Tour with a point to prove and a name to make for himself.
It didn’t take Esteban Chaves long to lay his mark, as stage two finishing in Caminito del Rey saw him trade blows with fellow attackers, before taking the biggest win of his career so far and pulling the red jersey on his shoulders. It was an ecstatic feeling for the South American, who kept the lead for a couple of days, until he lost it on the stage to Malaga, won by his teammate Caleb Ewan. Then, just 24 hours later, on Sierra de Cazorla, Chaves showed panache and strength, as he found the perfect timing to attack with three kilometers to go and nail another win, relinquishing the red jersey he lost one day earlier.
A brilliant and spectacular rider, Esteban Chaves is on the top of his game and sees his star shining brightly in what is his best race to date. After these victories and almost a week in the red jersey, results which confirmed his potential, he now needs to find out the answer to another important question: is he a rider made for a Grand Tour, a rider who can fight for the general classification? The answer will come in the next two weeks.