Chaves’ Giro d’Italia setback: ‘We have not got an answer’

The morning after the day before and Esteban Chaves‘ abrupt exit from the general classification contest at the Giro d’Italia remains a mystery. The Colombian set out from Penne on Tuesday morning lying second overall, just 32 seconds behind his Mitchelton-Scott teammate Simon Yates. By day’s end, he had lost 25 minutes. The bottom line is abundantly clear, but how did the story get to that point?

“We haven’t got an answer, simple as that,” directeur sportif Matt White said at the start of stage 11 in Santa Maria degli Angeli on Wednesday.

Despite his setback, Chaves continues in the Giro, albeit now in the service of Yates rather than in pursuit of an improvement on his second-place finish of 2016.

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On Tuesday, Chaves was in difficulty from the day’s opening climb, the Fonte della Creta. Although a battalion of Mitchelton-Scott teammates helped to keep him within touching distance of the pink jersey group for much of the opening 100 kilometres, the forcing of Sunweb, Team Sky et al finally told, and he was irretrievably distanced. The gap extended from three minutes, to 10, to 15 and eventually to 25.

“I don’t actually know what happened besides the fact he had a bad moment in a crucial part of the race. He passed that moment but when the other teams found out he was struggling on that climb they pushed the pace and we weren’t able to get him back to the group,” White said.

Chaves had worn a weathered smile as he boarded the team bus at the finish in Gualdo Tadino on Tuesday afternoon, telling a television crew, “I still have to understand my problems.” When general manager Shayne Bannan emerged from the bus shortly afterwards, he said it was too soon, and the disappointment was too raw, to hold a detailed debrief with his rider.

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