Two-time Vuelta a Espana stage winner Esteban Chaves has been crowned the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour champion following a final twilight stage on Yas Marina Circuit this evening.
The Colombian entered the last day of racing with a 16 second buffer to Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) and maintained that advantage thanks to the support of his Orica-GreenEDGE teammates on what was another sprint finish.
After a fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana, the victory marks the 25-year-old’s first professional overall victory at a multi-stage race.
“Can you imagine? First a mountain stage win, then my first general classification in a professional stage race. I am very, very happy,” Chaves said after he crossed the finish line.
“To win the first Abu Dhabi Tour is beautiful: it is the first edition of the race, and my first GC too. I'm happy for the team, and the team is very happy for me. As I follow my winter training program, I will be remembering this race.
"It is very cool. To finish the season in this way is great because it leaves you with great memories to think about when you train in the winter. To win the first Abu Dhabi Tour is beautiful: it is the first edition of the race, and my first GC too. I'm happy for the team, and the team is very happy for me.
"The plan was to keep the red jersey. Everything went perfectly. We tried to keep the breakaway at two minutes. We sent Meier and Bewley to the front, and they worked very hard. Then, towards the end, Sky worked for the stage win, and it was good for us.
"It is a beautiful track, and when, in the middle of the stage, darkness fell and the floodlights came on, it was a beautiful feeling.
"Tonight I will perhaps a toast with the guys, but no more. I am a quiet guy and I don't like parties and drunkenness.
"It is beautiful, because we are showing the beautiful face of our country. It is a way of showing young people that it is worth pursuing their dreams and working hard with discipline, and perseverance. There are Colombians everywhere: really good people who are proud of our sporting results. They turn out to see me, Team Colombia, and all the other Colombians in the peloton, and it is beautiful for us."
Sport director Matt White said the victory was the perfect way to cap off a great season for Orica-GreenEDGE and a breakthrough year for Chaves.
“It’s a nice way for us to go into the winter having finished off with a really positive race,” White said. “It's obviously a great time for Esteban. It’s no surprise that he is moving very well here but it’s a great sign of things to come.
“It’s also a nice way for him to cap off what has been a been breakthrough year for him. He has had some great wins in the past with us, but to finish top five in a Grand Tour and win a stage race in the second part of the season is certainly just reward for all of the hard work he has put in over the last few years.”
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