The Roar
The Roar


'Aussie' Esteban Chaves on track for Giro podium after winning Queen Stage

Esteban Chaves is one of cycling's great characters. (Team Sky)
22nd May, 2016

Orica-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves has claimed the Queen Stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia.

The ‘Colombian Kangaroo’ brought what had been a rather sleepy Grand Tour to life with a stunning performance in the high mountains that saw him put time into pre-race favourites Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

He now sits in third place on general classification with a real chance of becoming the first Orica-GreenEDGE rider to finish on the podium at a Grand Tour.

Chaves rode a perfect race and never once looked stretched over the 210-kilometre stage, which featured six classified climbs.

The action all took place on the final climb of the day, with Nibali the first of the heavy hitters to test out the main group’s legs by launching a stinging attack. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) jumped straight onto the Italian champion’s wheel with Chaves bridging across to them moments later.

This put Valverde into difficulty and the Movistar rider soon found himself being spat out the back of the shattered group.

Further up the climb, Chaves upped the pace again and this time it was Nibali who suffered and fell behind.

Chaves and Kruijswijk were then joined by Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and the trio set off in pursuit of the lone breakaway rider, Darwin Atapumu (BMC).


They caught him with only a couple of kilometres to go and the four riders contested the final sprint to the line, with Chaves coming around Preidler and Kruijswijk to claim his first Giro stage win.

It was difficult to know what was bigger – Chaves’ trademark smile as he crossed the line or the effort it took to get there!

Chaves now has three Grand Tour stage victories on his palmares, having ridden brilliantly at last year’s Vuelta a Espana where he picked up two stage wins and finished fifth overall.

His performance in Italy yesterday is further confirmation that he is now a genuine Grand Tour contender.

But with seven stages still to be ridden, can he hang onto his podium position?

Valverde, who is in fourth position overall, trails Chaves by 1:34, so the young Colombian has a good buffer over those who’ll be attacking him from behind. If he can continue to ride like he did yesterday, he should be able to consolidate his podium spot.

Of those in front of him, Kruijswijk – who has taken over the Maglia Rosa – has an advantage of 1:32, while second-placed Nibali is just 52 seconds ahead. They are not huge numbers and the possibility that the Colombian may even improve his position certainly exists.


For mine, it all comes down to tonight’s mountain time trial.

If there is one area where Chaves falls down it is in the battle against the clock.

He lost 1:35 to Nibali and over 1:20 to both Kruijswijk and Valverde on the 40.5-kilometre individual time trial in Chianti back on Stage 9. Take those results out of the equation and he would be pushing for race leadership.

That tonight’s 10.8-kilometre time trial includes a punishing nine-kilometre climb up the Alpe di Siusi should help even things out a bit for Chaves though, putting him on the type of terrain that he loves. The climb averages a tough enough 8.3 per cent, with a nasty peak of 11 per cent about three-quarters of the way up.

If Chaves can get his pacing right he should be able to maintain his current time gaps, if not improve them.

Do well here and his spot on the final podium is almost assured.

It will make for a tense stage though, with each of the riders still in contention eagerly awaiting the results of his rivals.


It’s a pivotal stage. It could be historic. Stay up for it and make sure you yell for Esteban!