TURIN, Italy, May 29 AAP – Australia’s Orica-GreenEDGE team have promised Esteban Chaves’s overall second placing in the Giro d’Italia is just the beginning of its assault on grand tour GC titles.
Chaves claimed the team’s first general classification podium in a grand tour when he finished the three-week race 51 seconds behind Italian great Vincenzo Nibali, who triumphed for a second time, while Spain’s Alejandro Valverde was third.
The 26-year-old Colombian put himself in contention by winning the toughest stage and went on to claim the pink jersey on stage 19, only to have Nibali rally to snatch it on the penultimate day.
However Chaves took huge confidence from competing so well with some of the world’s best GC riders in such a tough race.
“These last few days have been the best of my life,” said a delighted Chaves.
“This is just the beginning, that is what I told my teammates and this is what I believe.”
Orica-GreenEDGE sport director Matt White pointed with pride to that fact that the team had developed Chaves as a future general classification contender since its inception.
“Esteban is a home-grown talent which is the most exciting thing for us,” said White.
“He has been part of ORICA-GreenEDGE since the beginning and I agree that this is the start of the journey and we’re going to see some incredible battles in future grand tours.”
“Three weeks ago nobody thought we were going to be in this position.
“The special moment for me was when Esteban won the Queen stage. That was the first indication that we had the potential to win this race.
“It’s been an incredible three weeks and I am immensely proud of all our guys.”
Nibali cemented his reputation as one of the great grand tour riders when he claimed his second Giro d’Italia title in vintage fashion in Milan on Sunday.
The Italian, who won the 2013 Giro, was battered and bruised after a terrible performance in the uphill time trial a week ago and Tuesday’s mountain stage to Andalo, but when all seemed lost he hit back in style.
The Astana rider won solo in Risoul on Friday when overall leader Steven Kruiswijk crashed, and he put the hammer down on Saturday by dropping his closest rivals Alejandro Valverde and Chaves, who was wearing the pink jersey.
Nibali is one of only six men to win all three grand tours; the 2013 Giro, 2010 Vuelta and 2014 Tour de France crowns.