• Tom Dumoulin (L), Joaquim Rodriguez (C) and Esteban Chaves (R) do battle during the ninth stage of the Vuelta a España (AAP)Source: AAP
But for 700 metres of racing Esteban Chaves would still be wearing the leaders red jersey at the Vuelta a España but its weight eventually proved too much for him and Orica-GreenEDGE.
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31 Aug 2015 - 12:15 PM 

After winning the 2011 Tour de l'Avenir Chaves was well on his way to a professional career but a hard crash at the 2013 Trofeo Laigueglia in Italy delayed that entry while a cohort of fellow Colombians led by Nairo Quintana (Movistar) made their presence felt on the world stage.

Fast forward two years and Chaves has re-announced his talent after winning two Vuelta a Espana stages and holding, losing, holding and again relinquishing the leaders' red jersey.

Today, with nine stages of hot, hard and eventful Vuelta racing behind him, Chaves can be viewed as being among the best of his peers and for Orica-GreenEDGE has proved to be the best buy by any WorldTour team over the past two seasons.

Dumoulin holds off Froome to lead Vuelta
Tom Dumoulin surged past Chris Froome in the final metres to win the ninth stage and take the overall lead of the Vuelta a España as previous leader Esteban Chaves fell to third overall.

After Stage 9 the 25-year-old was disappointed but there remains a lot to fight for with 12 stages left to Madrid. 

He still holds the green points jersey by a single point ahead of the crafty Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and remains just 59 seconds from the lead now held by stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).

“I’m really tired and obviously disappointed,” Chaves said. “I lose the wheel with 700m to the finish and Tom Dumoulin was really really strong.”

“I tried. I said the first day I won that I wanted to leave my skin on the road to keep the red jersey and I did today.

“I want to say thanks again to the team, unbelievable ride again today. We will continue to try, it’s the ‘middle’ of the race and we will keep going.”  

Orica-GreenEDGE came into the Vuelta with seemingly modest goals but with Chaves (and to a lesser extent Stage 5 winner Caleb Ewan) have exceeded expectations, for a moment relegating veterans like Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey to the sidelines.

Chaves brings more than just climbing and stage winning ability to Orica-GreenEDGE, his presence and charisma appears to invigorate the team while his Colombian fan base adds to the carnival atmosphere surrounding every appearance whenever he rides. 

“I think now that we have lost the jersey we need to sit down and have a look at what we are have achieved and what we still want to achieve," sports director Neil Stephens said.

“Losing the jersey is a loss in pressure. Even though we talked about it, the red jersey has got a weight. You saw that on the shoulder of Esteban Chaves today.

“Now we go back to what we know, which is to work methodically to try and get to Madrid with the highest general classification we can obtain.”