Esteban Chaves may have missed out on victory during stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, but second place still caused a surge of emotion for the smiling Colombian.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Chaves has been on the long road to recovery since being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus last season.
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But he looks to be returning to his old self, making it into the breakaway and fighting hard to take second place on the road to Anterselva in the 2019 Giro.
Speaking after the stage, Chaves said: “It’s beautiful but it’s a lot of suffering as well.
“I’m not 100 per cent in my best shape but I have to try and I believe in myself.
“Second is good but also you have this strange taste in your mouth. But anyway we will continue to try until the end of the Giro.”
The 29-year-old took an eight-month break from racing after falling ill last year while racing the Giro d’Italia.
After winning stage six to Mount Etna in the 2018 Giro, Chaves fell dramatically out of contention and spent months searching for answers about his failing form.
He underwent numerous tests and even had minor surgery for a chronic sinus problem, later being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus.
The virus is a common ailment that causes infectious mononucleosis, or glandular fever.
Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish took an indefinite break from racing after being diagnosed with the virus.
Chaves started training again last August but did not make his return to the peloton until the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February.
On the remaining four days of the Giro, he added: “The first objective for the stages to go is of course to keep Simon [Yates] as high as possible on the general classification, and Mikel [Nieve] and [Lucas] Hamilton and myself to look to go in breakaways like we did today, to be there to drop back if Simon needs or to try for the stage ourselves.”