Stay or go? After 50 kilometres of relentless racing on stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia, it finally looked as though a truce of sorts was about to break out. A group of 20 or so riders had finally unmoored itself from the peloton and was bobbing clear when Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) spotted some dangerous stowaways.
The Colombian would doubtless have preferred to spare his climbing legs for the day’s only classified ascent, the category 1 haul to the finish atop Mount Etna, but with Sky’s David de la Cruz and Sergio Henao already aboard, he didn’t dare to miss the boat.
The instinctive decision proved a sage one. The break hit the foot of Etna with a sizeable buffer, and Chaves was the lone survivor from that crew on the upper slopes of the climb, as he emerged from the forestry on its western face to find a summit shrouded in a sea of low cloud.
Approaching the final kilometre, Chaves could sense the imminent approach of a pursuer from behind, but quickly realised it was a friend rather than a foe who was wading across to him. His teammate Simon Yates had attacked from the group of favourites behind, and the Mitchelton-Scott duo reached the finish the line together. The maglia rosa went to Yates, the stage victory to Chaves.
“I thought that there would be only 10 riders in the break, but I saw a lot of riders were in it. I saw there were guys like Henao and De la Cruz, so I did a big effort to get across,” Chaves said.
“That was the break, I just made one acceleration, and that was the break. I was fortunate to get in this break. Jack Haig was there too, and I think we and Sky were the ones who worked the most to keep the move up the road.”
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