Interview - Esteban Chaves: Orica-Scott saved my life
Aug 29 2017 12:13 am CET

Interview - Esteban Chaves: Orica-Scott saved my life
Interview - Esteban Chaves: Orica-Scott saved my life
Photo of Esteban Chaves © Mary Cárdenas /

Colombian rider Esteban Chaves sits in second place of the general classification after nine stages at the Vuelta a España, and took a moment to talk to

The first phase of the Spanish grand tour saw Chaves back in contention for the overall classification after a difficult season, in which he had to recover from a bad injury. So far, he has been the only rider able to consistently stay close to Chris Froome.

CyclingPub had the opportunity to speak with the rider at a hotel near Alicante, where he is staying with his team Orica-Scott.

How are you dealing with the rest day?

It is super tricky because you never know what is the right way to attack a rest day. Sometimes you do too much, sometimes not enough. Sometimes you do the same like the previous year and it doesn't work. So it's super tricky and it's really important how your body reacts, also because the stage after the rest day is often an important and hard one.

Two more weeks at the front, it's a long way to Madrid. You need to keep calm and keep your head down and just go day by day. This is a long sport. This race will be between 95 and 100 hours at the end, it's not just 90 minutes.

How did this first week feel to you?

I can't complain. We're really happy. We have a really good team and we work really well together with maturity and experience, even though we are a young team. Just one guy is over 30 years old and the other eight guys are younger. But we have a lot of experience from the grand tours of the past and we show that now. We are calm and happy. You always have to be happy when you do the best you can, and that's what we do every day.

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Esteban Chaves, Vuelta a España 2017

This season has been a little strange for you as the start wasn't good but now you're getting into the right shape.

The start of this season in Australia was actually really good for me but then came the injury and everything really collapsed. It's hard to take the rhythm again but this team supports me, even when I have a bad injury or a hard moment at the Tour de France. They keep believing in me and keep seeing me as one of the contenders for a grand tour and this is a beautiful thing of this team. I take this opportunity to say thank you to Orica-Scott, for supporting me and giving me all these important moments in my life.

This race, the Vuelta, do you think it particularly suits you? You've done very well here in the last two years as well.

Yes, this race always smiles to me. It was my first grand tour ever and it always gives me a lot of surprises. I speak Spanish because I'm Colombian so it's easier for me. I like the atmosphere here and a lot of Colombians come to support us and cheer for us. It's a beautiful race and I can say that it is one of my favorites.

Many Colombian riders tend to stay with Spanish speaking teams, with some exceptions of course. Why did you pick this team, Orica-Scott?

Right now it's really hard to find a Spanish team as there is only one (laughs). But I didn't choose this team; this team chose me. I clicked really well with the Australian culture. They are special. They are super similar to the Colombians because we are all from countries far from Europe and trying to make a life here, and we click really well. I'm really happy about this and I can say, like my father also says, that they saved my life because they signed me at the hardest moment in my life and they believed in me. My way of saying thank you to them is to work hard, get good results and enjoy. I was born in Colombia but I feel Australian.

So if was up to you, you would stay at this team for a long time?

I probably want to finish my career here. Why not? You never know. You have to touch wood because you never know what happens like you now see with Cannondale. They finished second at the Tour and have some problems now. You never know what the future brings but I feel really happy here and if I can finish my career here at this team I will be super happy and super proud.

To go back to the Vuelta, how do you think the next two weeks will suit you?

Hard and fast, for sure. The stages will be a bit shorter but more intense. The climbs will also be different as the climbs we've had so far are like 12 to 15 minutes long and now we will have climbs of 30 to 50 minutes, so it will be different. The race gets into another phase now and on paper it's better for the climbers. But we know that Christopher Froome can do everything: Short climbs, long climbs, sprints and time trials. It will be interesting and the public will surely enjoy.

You get along well with Chris, right?

I talk with him, and he's actually a really nice guy. I think we all talk to each other. We are 'friends'. We don't have arguments between us and this is a beautiful and unique thing of this sport.

About next season: Orica-Scott has already secured some big signings. What is your view on those?

Cool. They announced another one, Jack Bauer is a strong guy for flat stages. The team is growing up, you know? It's a process and they have started to get strong riders, not only for the big tours but also for the classics. We want to be a strong team and be good at everything. This is tricky but it's the goal.

With the World Championships in Bergen coming up, the Colombian federation announced its selection a week ago. It has been received as a very strong selection as the riders all did very well this year. Do you think that the team has a chance to win?

Definitely. With Fernando (Gaviria) you can get a very good result. It will be very difficult because it's very cold. It's very long, 280 kilometers. But the riders that were chosen are strong. I won't be at the World Championships, unfortunately. I would have loved to but with the Vuelta and everything that has happened so far this year I will need some rest. But with the riders we have we can get a very good result and all the eyes will be on Fernando as the course suits him well.

Do you think that riders like Nairo Quintana can support Fernando?

For sure!




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