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‘No fluke’ Chaves to lead Orica’s 2016 Giro and Vuelta teams

Orica-GreenEdge to focus on stage wins at the Tour, which will allow up-and-comer Esteban Chaves to focus on GC glory in the Giro, Vuelta.

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MILAN (VN) — Colombian Esteban Chaves, after placing fifth overall and winning two stages in the 2015 Vuelta a España, should lead Orica-GreenEdge in next year’s Giro d’Italia and Vuelta.

The Australian team’s 2016 plans aren’t set in stone, but officials said that Chaves will be the classification captain in the Italian and Spanish grand tours if all goes to plan. “He’s going to have a similar template as 2015: Go for the Giro and Vuelta again,” sport director, Matt White said.

“The Vuelta this year was no fluke. If he can get back to that level, and I think it’ll be no problem for him, then he’s going to be quite competitive in the Giro.”

Giro organizer RCS Sport already unveiled the 2016 course, running May 6 to 29, with a technical time trial and plenty of high-mountain stages that should suit the 25-year-old from Bogotá.

This May in the Giro, Chaves mostly flew under the radar, but took away experienced that he used later in the year.

“Esteban tried in last year’s Vuelta [2014], but he couldn’t sustain a three-week effort,” said White. “This year in the Giro and Switzerland, there was never the plan for Esteban to ride the classification, we just needed to load him up for that period. He benefited from that big block of racing in the spring, May and June, he went home and had a rest, and he came back with vengeance in the summer.”

Chaves was one of the surprises of the Vuelta this August and September, along with his Australian teammate Caleb Ewan and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. He broke clear of all the major grand tour riders, including Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, and won stage 2. He won again at the end of the first week in stage 6. He held on for two more weeks and took home fifth-place overall.

The Colombian ended his season by winning the queen stage and race overall in the Abu Dhabi Tour earlier in October.

“It’s not confirmed for the moment, but [the Giro and Vuelta] is what we are thinking,” White added.

“Esteban is passionate for those races and wants to improve on those results. Before we attempt the Tour’s general classification, it’d be good to get another grand tour under his belt.”

Orica, like in 2015, will focus on winning stages in the Tour de France. White said that the 23-year-old twins, Adam and Simon Yates will return to France along with its star riders Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews.

Focusing on stages in the Tour, leaves Orica to concentrate fully on the classification in the Giro and Vuelta — and perhaps win its first grand tour.

“His biggest strength … For a little guy, he handles himself well in the bunch, which is not normal. He’s a quiet guy, but a great leader. He’s very hungry, he’s very hungry to win,” said White.