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PRAIA A MARE, Italy (VN) — They may have the lead, but Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves plan to keep attacking their Giro d’Italia rivals this weekend.
Yates took the overall leader’s pink jersey on Mount Etna on Thursday when he blasted from the favorites’ group at 1.5 kilometers remaining. He joined his Colombian teammate Chaves, who placed second overall in the 2016 Giro and had been in the early breakaway. The two rode to victory together.
Chaves took the stage win and moved to third overall, and Yates donned the famous pink top. Most teams would defend their lead, but the Australian WorldTour team wants more.
“More attacks? 100 percent. We know we have to take time on Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin when we can because they are better TT riders than our two guys, that’s a fact, but a lot of guys up in the top echelon are in the same boat,” team sport director Matt White told VeloNews.
“It’s going to be the same all the way to Rome, when there’s an opportunity, we’ll take it. When someone is on a bad day, other teams will try to capitalize.”
The 2018 Giro concludes in Rome on May 27, still two weeks away with much more climbing to come. The climbs suit 25-year-old Brit Simon Yates and Chaves. The 34.2-kilometer time trial that opens up the third week does not.
Favorites Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), the 2017 race winner, and Tour de France star Chris Froome (Sky) will begin to worry if Yates and Chaves gain more time this weekend on the Montevirgine di Mercogliano and Gran Sasso summit finishes.
“We aren’t going to get ahead of ourselves now and think about winning the race yet …” White said when asked about the buffer the two need for the time trial to Rovereto.
“It’s a time trial. We know we’ll lose time and we have to limit our losses.”
Limiting their losses and having a chance to wear the pink jersey — the team does not mind if it is with Yates or Chaves — will require more time. Right now, Yates leads the race with 16 seconds on Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), 26 on Chaves, 43 on Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), 45 on Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), 53 on Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), and 1:10 on Chris Froome (Sky).
“They’ve done that before,” White said of their abilities in grand tours. Chaves placed second in the 2016 Giro and third in the 2016 Vuelta a España. Yates placed sixth in the 2016 Vuelta and seventh in the 2017 Tour. “It’s great to see them live up to that, but no surprise, for sure.”