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Cool under fire: Chaves, Yates brothers lead Orica’s grand tour ambitions

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Orica – BikeExchange’s young arsenal — Esteban Chaves and the Yates twins, Adam and Simon — could dominate the upcoming grand tours. What is surprising to the team boss, and perhaps worrying to his rivals, is just how cool they are under fire.

General manager Shayne Bannan decided to aim at grand tours and beefed up the Australian WorldTour team in 2014 with all three aforementioned riders. Colombia’s Chaves just returned from a complicated crash that nearly ended his career and the British twins graduated from successful amateur careers. They impressed, but also surprised, over the last three years.

“All three are surprisingly cool under fire and can handle constant pressure,” Bannan said. “Results aside, their ability to handle the constant pressure has impressed me the most.

“It’s their level-headedness, their maturity, making good decisions, their ability to handle pressure, and to be really good teammates.”

They spread their wings more than most had imagined over the three years. Chaves won two stages in the Vuelta a España last year and returned stronger this year with a second overall in the Giro d’Italia and third, behind Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome, in the Vuelta. Earlier this month, Chaves became the first Colombian to win Il Lombardia.

Adam Yates, 24, sat second overall in the Tour de France for a week this summer and ended up fourth overall with the white jersey as the best young rider. Simon dedicated himself to Chaves in the Vuelta, but still had a chance to win a stage and place sixth overall.

Bannan finds himself in a welcomed predicament of having three grand tour leaders. He and the team must decide where the trio will concentrate their efforts in 2017. Some insiders said the team will send the 26-year-old Chaves to the Tour for the first time with one of the Yates brothers at his side, and let the other Yates lead in the Giro They will sort out the Vuelta later in the season.

“It’s really exciting, considering we have the Yates boys until the end of 2018 and Chaves until 2019, we have time to develop them to top-level GC riders. You could argue that Chaves is already that even if he hasn’t experienced the Tour de France yet,” Bannan said.

“It’s a matter of not getting too carried away. You have to keep in mind that development still has to take place because of their age, and that’s what we want to do with the three of them again next year.”

The Achilles heel with all three is time trialling. Simon Yates perhaps is the best of the three, but each one would say that he needs to improve in order to win a grand tour. Chaves, for example, lost 3:13 to Froome in the Vuelta’s final 37-kilometer time trial in September.

“It’s certainly an area we need to address, his time trial results have improved the last three years, but we need to get him to a level where he’s more competitive in grand tours,” Bannan said of Chaves. “That’s the obvious thing, and it’s the same for Simon and Adam.”

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