The Orica-GREENEDGE rider continues to defy all expectations by remaining within sniffing distance of the podium after winning two stages and occupying the leader's jersey twice earlier in the race.
Chaves kept pace with proven Grand Tour contenders Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Fabio Aru (Astana) on the final climb to Alto Campoo last night - the first of three consecutive mountain stages before the second rest day.
Chaves admitted that the strains of a three-week race were beginning to wear on him,
“I feel tired,” Chaves said. “It was a really hard stage, long, and in the final four kilometres Astana was a really strong team.”
“Today I (could) stay with the best riders and I am really happy," he added. "The team worked really hard again and most important is to keep this position on general classification.”
Orica-GREENEDGE sport director Neil Stephens is positive about Chaves' options for the next few days
“We identified that today wouldn’t produce any great differences in the general classification and we were happy to try to maintain the position we were in,” Stephens said.
“Esteban got to the finish, looked around and saw a few tired people. The last few kilometres of the climb really suited him so he thought he would give it everything to take advantage of the opportunity to gain any seconds that could become important at some stage.
“It’s a good sign for the next couple of days, which will be really solid racing and it’s great to know that his teammates are also responding very well." Stephens added.
The big acid test for Chaves could well be Wednesday's 38.7km time trial stage in Burgos. Chaves is an unknown quantity against the clock, so a good performance could see him elevated to the podium - while a poor one could end his GC hopes altogether.
No matter what, Chaves is clearly having some fun at the Vuelta - even if his attempts at gurning aren't quite as impressive as those of race leader Fabio Aru.