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Three days after he won the Il Lombardia Classic, Esteban Chaves has extended his current contract with the Orica-BikeExchange squad. Under the terms of the deal, announced on Tuesday, the Colombian climber will remain part of the team at least until the end of 2019.
“There are a lot of things that make this team different to any other team,” said the 26 year old. “This team is special and the last week in Italy showed this.
“We were in the last week of the season for a lot of guys but we feel like it is the first week of the season. Everyone is super excited, happy and laughing. It’s not demanding for us to race or be with the team because we are all really close.
“This team continues to work, this team continues to believe and the chemistry of this team is real and from the heart. It is special for me to be part of this organisation, this team and this family.”
Chaves came to the team in 2014, moving across after two seasons with Colombia-Coldeportes, and has underlined his talent ever since. He won the Abu Dhabi Tour in 2015 and took two stages plus fifth overall in the Vuelta a España.
This season he built on that, taking a stage plus second overall in the Giro d’Italia, netting third in the Vuelta a España and winning both Il Lombardia and the Giro dell’Emilia.
Those performances have marked him out as one of the best young talents in the sport and, unsurprisingly, directeur sportif Matt White is excited about the contract extension.
“For us, Esteban epitomises what this team stands for,” he said. “Guts, humility and leading by example.”
“For someone who has come through a career-threatening crash to come back and deliver on the road and then step up to lead a team in the world’s biggest races, is a testimony to his character.
“Esteban didn’t even speak English three years ago and now he continues to grow as a person and a rider as we continue to grow as a team around him. We are very proud and excited to have Esteban extend his journey with us.”
The crash White refers to was a near-career ending fall in the Trofeo Laigueglia in February 2013. That has left him with lasting damage to his arm but it clearly hasn’t prevented his career from blossoming.
“I had a hard start,” said Chaves, referring to his long recovery from that fall. “But the good thing is that every year we set some objectives and every year we meet these objectives and do a little bit more.”
“It has been a special three years with this team and if we continue on this line, good things will come. We have a really young team, there are a lot of strong guys under 30, so if we keep growing together over the next few years we will be really strong in all of the races.”
Chaves described the team as ‘like one family’ and said that is a big reason for his satisfaction with the squad. “I never think to stay here for a couple of years and then look somewhere else because I am 100% happy here.
“I want to stay here with the people who gave me the opportunity when no one else gave me the opportunity or believed in me.”
The news of his contract extension has also come with confirmation that team owner and chief backer Gerry Ryan will continue to support the team for the foreseeable future.