Speaking from Colombia, where he is undergoing an altitude training block before the 4-27 May Grand Tour, Chaves is equally grounded and motivated by his home surrounds.
The 2016 Giro was a success for the Mitchelton-Scott climber, who won a stage and marked a stint in the leader’s jersey en route to the podium finish.
Those factors, let alone private battles he would have undertaken, stood as obvious answers Chaves could have referred to when asked about his most vivid memory of that race. Instead, the savvy 28-year-old went with family.
“I remember at the Giro d’Italia when my parents came and it was their first time to Europe, which was pretty exciting for me. They had a hard flight but had always one big smile and looked at me with pride,” Chaves tells Cycling Central.
“I think everything is around family and the people that are close to you. You are what you are because of the people close to you and I am what I am because of my parents. I’m proud for that, motivated and it gives you strength as well.”
Chaves has mimicked 2016 preparations ahead of this year’s Giro, undergoing multiple altitude camps around select races.
He is set to co-lead Mitchelton-Scott alongside British climber Simon Yates, with all concerned parties confident the two can work harmoniously together.
Asked if he could overcome the likes of reigning champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Sky’s Chris Froome to win the title this year, Chaves repeated, “Why not?”.
“If someone told me I’d finish second place in the Giro two years ago I wouldn’t have believed it but now I think why not,” he says. “Beautiful things happen when you work hard. This is what we train for.”
Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White has previously said time trialling is a weak spot for Chaves, who has spent time in a wind tunnel in an effort to limit losses next month and beyond.
“Finishing on top of a hill I arrive sometimes with the best guys; I can drop them and put 10 or 15 seconds in them, and they can drop me and they put 20 or 15 or 10 seconds in me after five hours of racing,” Chaves says. “But after you go for one time trial, which is 40 minutes, then they put five minutes in me.”
The Giro this year features two flat time trials – a 9.7km race opener in Israel and a 34.2km run to Rovereto in the last week.
Chaves took confidence from a 10th place performance in the stage four individual time trial at Paris-Nice last month, which he finished 33 seconds in arrears of Wout Poels (Sky), describing it as a “good test”.
“I’m getting pretty excited. I want to do the best for me, for my team, for my family because I care and I love what I do,” he says.
Chaves’s family, perhaps tellingly, is set to visit in the third week of the Giro this year – typically when it becomes truly demanding.