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"I want to say that I am sorry for Poels. I won the stage, but it would not have been correct to celebrate and raise my arms. I passed the finish line, and I took the win, but cycling is like that."

Photo: Sirotti






10.10.2015 @ 18:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two-time 2015 Vuelta a Espana stage winner Esteban Chaves has continued his blistering end-of-season form to take the queen stage victory and overall lead in a dramatic finale on day three at the Abu Dhabi Tour.


The Colombian attacked an elite group of surviving riders on the final climb with a little over five kilometres to ride. He remained alone before being caught inside the last kilometre by Wout Poels (Team Sky).


As the pair approached the final metres, Poels slid and crashed off his bike on the last corner, Chaves streaming through to take the win.


"It was a very hard climb, and even harder in the heat,” Chaves said after the race. “The first part was hard, the final kilometres less so, but you needed to have the legs. The racing was hard, too. 


“We are in the middle of the desert and the temperatures were unbelievable, so it was important to keep my body temperature down. The team was great. They worked hard for me all day, bringing me water and ice for my back and head. I poured 30 to 35 bottles of water on my body.


“I am really happy with this win. It was a hard climb, but I did not raise my hands in celebration because the rider in front of me crashed, and it would not have been correct to celebrate. I would like to send my commiserations to Wout Poels, and also say to the race organisers, 'Congratulations, Abu Dhabi Tour.'


"I attacked really early, because the final part of the climb was less steep, and therefore it was easier for a rider like Poels. He caught me in the final kilometre, and started his sprint, but on the final corner, 50m from the finish, his wheel slipped and he went down. I came past him and won the stage. I want to say that I am sorry for Poels. I won the stage, but it would not have been correct to celebrate and raise my arms. I passed the finish line, and I took the win, but cycling is like that.

"It was a 180-degree bend, 50m from the finish line: you have to take risks in that situation. Sprinting is like that. I think he fell because of sand on the road. I say again, that is sport. 


"I don't know [if I would have won]. I would have tried, but you can never know.


"A short, flat stage, at that, and, I hope, less warm. We race at night tomorrow, and normally in Abu Dhabi it is 5-7 degrees less at night, which is perfect. We'll certainly try to keep the jersey

"It is true [that this is the first stage race win as a pro]. I hadn't thought of that! I have won the Tour de l'Avenir, but as a pro, when I pass the finish line tomorrow, if I win, it will be my first GC win. Every win is big.


"It is important for me. Cycling is more global now. The big races are not all on one continent, There are important races in America, Asia, and now the UAE. It is important for cycling, and for us too.  In January, Matthew White asked me if I wanted to come, and I said, "Of course! I don't know Abu Dhabi."


"I have one dream in my life. I started it when I was 12. I want to win the the Tour de France one day. It is a long away away, and I have never even ridden the Tour. I have only ridden one Giro d'Italia and two Vueltas. This year has been really important for my career. I can now say that I can do it: ride competitively for 3 weeks. Maybe next year I will ride one more big Tour, really focused on the GC, and we will see how I do. 

"The Abetone stage in the Giro was a turning point. I wasn't just trying to follow them: I had the chance of wearing the Maglia Rosa. My first Giro d'Italia was very important for me. My body matured incredibly, and so did my mind. It makes you stronger. Your body is stronger, you can train harder, for longer, with more intensity, and that helped me for the Vuelta, where I won two stages, the leader's jersey, and things changed for me in the sense that now, when I start a race, I  know that maybe I can win."


After a breakthrough fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana, Chaves enters tomorrow’s final day of racing with a 16second race lead from Fabio Aru (Astana Team).


“It’s not a surprise that Esteban is flying,” sport director Matt Whitesaid. “He was good in Beijing at this time last year after the Vuelta, and he is at another level this year.


“It was always going to be a bit of a death march up the final climb for the majority of the group and it’s becoming a bit of a habit of Esteban’s to attack when no one is expecting.


“When he got caught by Woet Poels it was going to go either way. Then Wout has gone in a little too hot on the last corner and has paid the price. Esteban obviously showed he was the best guy on the climb and I think it was a well-deserved win.


“With the group we have here and the way they have been looking after Esteban up until this point, I’m confident we can hold on tomorrow.”



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