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TRENTO, Italy (VN) — Colombian Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) still struggles to understand what turned his Giro d’Italia upside down.
Chaves slid down the general classification when he fell behind on the first climb of stage 10.
He had earlier won the Mount Etna stage and sat second overall behind teammate Simon Yates. The 25-minute loss, however, put him in 39th. The next day he lost 4:54.
The answers remain unclear how Chaves — who was second in 2016 with a stunning stage win in the Dolomites — fell away so quickly.
“You will find that after the race when you can see all the picture together, during the race it’s crazy and you go crazy trying to understand what happened and everything goes too fast,” Chaves told VeloNews.
“Afterwards, when you have time at home, you can see all the picture together, not just this month, but since November, and you will understand what you learned and what happened.”
The disastrous 10th stage followed the first full rest day and may have been part of the problem. Some riders do not perform well after a rest day.
Now, a week has passed. Chaves has yet to undergo deep medical checks to try to find out what happened.
“That will take time for sure,” he said. “There is no one-word answer from one day to the other or one night, now we just need to fight for the pink and this is it.”
The 28-year-old briefly led the 2016 Giro after Steven Kruijswijk crashed into a snow bank. Vincenzo Nibali overhauled him for the win on the final mountain day, but Chaves held on for second overall. He and Nairo Quintana put Chris Froome in a Colombian sandwich at the 2016 Vuelta a España, when Quintana won and Chaves placed third.
But “2017 was a pretty hard year,” said Chaves, referring to knee problems and tendonitis. It led to him pulling out of races and canceling his planned Giro start. The Aussie team lined him up in the Tour de France alongside Simon Yates, who went on to finish seventh, but it all felt too rushed for Chaves.
The 2018 season appeared better. If Chaves won a stage and the overall of the Sun Tour in Australia, and he performed well in the time trial at Paris-Nice.
“It’s hard to say that you are in the same level like two years ago. I don’t know if I was in the same level or not, but one thing is clear, I was really in a good level in the first week of the Giro and after that, I had one really bad day, and another one the next day,” explained Chaves.
“One thing is clear, the performance and the work you made don’t go anywhere. That stays somewhere in my body and hopefully I can find that in the last days.”
All is not lost for Mitchelton-Scott, however. Simon Yates has three stage wins and leads the race, while Chaves triumphed on Mount Etna. Helping his British teammate is Chaves’s role.
“It’s unbelievable. For the team, for us, we are in a really good spot. That victory on Etna was pretty special,” Chaves said.
“We have the pink jersey with one week to go. We are in a good place. This is beautiful.
“We can’t talk about personal goals. I always say that to the media, in this team we have no personal goals, just one goal: to keep the pink jersey as long possible.”