Watch: Emotional Esteban Chaves takes ‘beautiful’ second place at Giro d’Italia after long recovery from illness

The ever-smiling Colombian didn’t have the legs in the final but still had cause for celebration

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

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. 

>>> Five things you need to know about Giro d’Italia leader Richard Carapaz

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.

>>> How much prize money will the winner of the Giro d’Italia take home?

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.”

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.