Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) celebrates not only a win at the Giro d’Italia in San Martino di Castrozza but return after a difficult year.
The Colombian won the summit finish stage 19 in the Dolomites, one year after his win on Mount Etna in the 2018 Giro d’Italia. But in between, he suffered from the Epstein–Barr virus and didn’t race for the rest of the season after the Giro finished.
“Today was an incredible day, very beautiful,” Chaves said.
“It’s a liberation from the past two or three years of setbacks and difficulties, always with ups and downs. But this is a thanks to everyone who is always around me, my family, my team, my friends, my foundation.”
The final climb covered 13.1km and reached 1,471 metres, with Chaves making his bid for victory from an escape, while behind Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Movistar) defended his pink jersey lead.
At the top of the climb, the 29-year-old, who works for Simon Yates, had time to reflect.
“This shows that I can be at the maximum level and it can be for many more years to come,” he continued.
“I believe the that life can be summed in today’s final climb; no matter how hard things might get, you have to keep attacking, keep trying, keep pushing, because you never known when everything can turn around and you will be first across the finish line.”
Chaves finished ahead of Andrea Vendrame (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Amaro Antunes (CCC Team).
Just as in Anterselva two days ago, he had his family waiting for him to embrace him. And the cheer of Italian tifosi, who know him well after his years racing in Italy first for Team Colombia and then for Mitchelton-Scott.
“I never felt pressured, we’ve been here, working, but it was a very special day because it shows that dreams can come true. And today I am realising a dream today once again,” he said.
“To have my family waiting at the finish line it’s something special, it’s part of the Giro, and I want to say hello to my brother, who celebrated his birthday yesterday.”
Chaves won a stage in the 2016 and 2018 Giro, and placed second overall in the 2016 Giro d’Italia. In the Vuelta a España, he counts two stage wins and third overall behind winner Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome in 2016.