Esteban Chaves impresses on challenging Vuelta a Espana stage into Gruissan
The promise of crosswinds on stage 2 of the Vuelta a España was on paper a threatening affair for lither climbers such as Esteban Chaves.
The 2014 Vuelta a España was Chaves' debut Grand Tour in which he finished 41st overall. He returned the following year to win two stages, wear the leader's red jersey and finish fifth overall. Chaves again improved in 2016 as he rode to third place overall to confirm his promise as a Grand Tour contender.
After riding the Tour de France in July largely to build his base for the Vuelta after a knee injury impeded his spring, the 27-year-old was full of praise for his teammates on a day that could well have ended his GC aims.
"Today was a really crazy stage. No breakaway, all day full stress, really fast average speed and a crazy final," said Chaves. "But I am lucky, I have big guys like Svein Tuft, Chris Juul-Jensen and Sam Bewley to protect me from the wind and I had good sensations."
"All of the team, not just the GC teams, were nervous about the wind, the narrow roads and the road furniture. It was a nervous day all up and a good one to have behind us," Stephens said. "There a couple of gaps in the finish but, if anything, we gained a little bit of time so it was a positive day all around."