Esteban Chaves will return to Giro d’Italia to ride for Simon Yates

The 2016 runner-up takes up a support role at this year’s edition

Esteban Chaves (left) and Simon Yates will return to the Giro d'Italia in 2019 (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Esteban Chaves will return to the Giro d’Italia to support Simon Yates, after a tough few years in Italy for the Colombian.

Chaves, second-place finisher in 2016, will act as super domestique for British team-mate Yates who is looking for redemption after last year’s edition.

Mitchelton-Scott rider Chaves has been recovering from a long illness and is hoping he has returned to full strength.

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Chaves said: “It will be special, like always, when I go back to Italy.

“I have a special relationship with Italy and last year in Rome was one of the toughest days on the bike for me.

“Last year’s Giro, for me and for the team, had a lot of ups and downs, so to go back there for this race is special and exciting.”

Mitchelton-Scott had high expectations heading into the 2018 Giro with Yates and Chaves as joint leaders.

The Australian team were dominant in the mid part of the race, taking victory with Chaves atop Mount Etna on stage six with Yates going into the leader’s jersey.

Yates then took his first stage victory on day nine, but Chaves fell dramatically out of GC contention shortly after.

But Mitchelton-Scott looked like they would still win the overall with Yates, as he took stage victory on days 11 and 15.

On the penultimate mountain stage Yates blew up and lost the race lead, finishing more than an hour down in Rome.

Chaves underwent numerous tests and had minor surgery for a chronic sinus problem after his Giro collapse.

He was eventually diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, taking an eight-month break from racing to recover.

The 29-year-old said: “I was super excited to return to racing this year, but also nervous and, I can’t lie, sometimes panicked.

“What happened last year is something out of my control. When I was finally back training and racing, somewhere in my head I was worried that it can come back.”

Chaves returned to racing at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana this year, also riding in Andalucia, Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya.

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He has yet to take a win but sports director Matt White says the signs are positive.

“The most important thing for Esteban for the early season was to get that race load,” White said.

“He has almost been on a program of one week on, one week off, for the last eight weeks and he is showing no signs of those races having a negative effect on him, which is a really great sign and means we can look forward to the Giro.

“The other important aspect was confidence. When you sit out on the sidelines for so long you do lose your mojo and you lose the feeling of racing in the bunch.

“Riders take a lot of risks in their day-to-day racing and when you’re only training or riding your bike it’s a very different feeling and different for your confidence.”

On Chaves’ leadership capabilities, White added: “Esteban is definitely coming in as a super domestique role.

“He is a winner as well, but our clear leader for the Giro is Simon Yates and Esteban will be doing whatever he can to aid Simon and our goal of winning the Giro.”

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