• Orica-Scott is keeking all of its Vuelta a España options open. (Getty)Source: Getty
Orica-Scott has opposed an old adage that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil, with all three of its key climbers currently top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
24 Aug 2017 - 11:27 AM  UPDATED 24 Aug 2017 - 11:28 AM

Esteban Chaves is third overall; 11 seconds in arrears of race leader and four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky) after five stages.

Chaves’s two teammates, identical British twins Adam and Simon Yates, aren’t far off the pace either sitting eighth and ninth respectively.

It’s true the race is in its early days, with the final general classification likely to be determined in the last week, according to Orica-Scott sports director Neil Stephens.

Chaves rides into Vuelta contention after Stage 5
Esteban Chaves has rebounded from a troubled first half of 2017 and placed himself into a Vuelta a España podium position after five stages.

“An ideal result would be to get to the last week and go into the battle for the GC. I tend to think it will be all or bust at that stage,” Stephens told Cycling Central.

“I’ll be really happy if we can just be there as a major actor in the last week of the race. If you try and categorise that, in the last day in Madrid if we can pull off a stage or two and get on the podium that would be fantastic.”

However, the team’s burgeoning Grand Tour front-men could be marked well before that. Froome, more than once now, has mentioned the threat Chaves particularly poses in this edition of the race.

“Esteban Chaves seems to be one of the strongest climbers in this year’s Vuelta,” he told British press overnight.
In recent years, having too many leaders at a single team in one race has often gone awry with tempers, tense team buses and declining results sheets all common.

Stephens has downplayed any such scenario presenting in Spain though, insisting everyone is across his purposeful play.

“We’ve thought long and hard about it, talked about it and it’s not as if we’ve sat down and drilled them. It’s been really nice conversations with all of them because we’re all on the same page,” he said.

“There is a real selflessness in the way the three of them act. There is going to be hard times, there is going to be moments where you are not exactly sure which tactic you should follow but the motivation and drive for these three guys is all very open and team orientated. At this stage, none of them is the team leader; the team leader is the team itself.”

Orica-Scott last year entered Chaves and Simon Yates into the Vuelta with effect. Colombian climber Chaves placed third overall behind winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar), with Yates sixth on the general classification.

“We had a nice experience here last year where we had Simon Yates and Esteban in the race together and honestly you couldn’t [ask] for a better pair of blokes in the race,” Stephens said.

“You would play one off the other; Simon would attack one day and it was great for Esteban, he was there in the pocket seat ready to go … and moved up on GC.”

The three young men have each entered the Vuelta on unequal footing, though Stephens has assured, while none are at the level of being billed as genuine contenders yet, that the podium in Madrid is a realistic goal.

“Esteban has been playing catch up and he’s been training really hard and in the mountains. Adam has been training long and slow since the Giro, getting ready for this. He has come off a race base, which was Tour of Poland. Simon, basically he raced once after the Tour de France, he went on holidays and he’s come into this really quite green.

“They’re all in great shape but all prepared differently.”

The Vuelta continues today with a 204.4km medium mountain stage from Vila Real to Sagunto.