With Johan Esteban Chaves showing great condition, Orica-GreenEDGE chose to protect their young Colombian instead of riding for Michael Matthews in today's stage of the Vuelta a Espana. However, the youngster suffered a blow when he lost his most important mountain domestique Ivan Santaromita who broke his finger in a crash.
Colombian Esteban Chaves has maintained fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana, finishing 25th in the first group on stage seven this afternoon.
Looking after Chaves, stage three winner Michael Matthews was the team’s highest finisher in 15th. Cannondale’s Alessandro de Marchi won solo from the break.
On what was another challenging day of racing, the team again put their efforts into supporting the 24-year-old.
“It was a really demanding day. The heat and the fatigue at this year’s Vuelta is starting to take its toll,” sport director Neil Stephens said.
“Right from the start it was very difficult for all the riders and once again our main priority was Esteban in the general classification with a view to seeing how the race panned out.”
“It’s a dream come true to be racing at the front in a Grand Tour," Chaves said. "I’ve worked every day for that since I joined this Orica-GreenEdge. It’s a wonderful team that has given me the tools to do things well after the bad year I had because of my arm injury.
"There are still some movements in my everyday life that I can’t do but I can ride my bike. The team trusts me. I’ll do all I can to end up in the best overall position.”
The day’s four-man break was instigated by Ryder Hesjedal (GRS) and Johann Tschopp (IAM), before the pair were joined by De March and Hubert Dupont (ALM).
With 15km remaining the break was unsettled as Dupont was dropped and Hesjedal crashed. Shortly after, De Marchi accelerated leaving Tschopp in his wake.
As the peloton made it’s way to the finish 2minutes 20seconds behind De Marchi, splits appeared as a trio of riders created a small gap from the reduced bunch to gain a few extra seconds.
After an early attempt to join a large but unsuccessful breakaway, ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Ivan Santamorita fell victim to a crash 50km into the stage. The Italian withdrew from the race with a suspected broke finger and will return home for further treatment and recovery after initial scans showed a dislocation and suspected ligament damage.
Stephens said the departure of Santamorita was a blow for the team as they approach the mountain stages.
“It’s already a difficult race but things are going to be even more difficult with the absence of a really important man in the mountains in Ivan,” Stephens said.
British neo-pro Adam Yates was also involved in a crash but has been cleared of any injury.
Tomorrow’s eighth stage is a flat 207km journey from Baeza to Albacete.
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