Almost three months after Esteban Chaves’ dramatic form collapse in the Giro d’Italia, the Mitchelton-Scott team has indicated that unspecified health issues lay behind the rider’s changing fortunes.
Chaves was one of the strongest climbers in the race early on, winning the stage to Mount Etna, netting seventh on stage eight and third on stage nine and rising to second overall in the general classification.
However on stage ten he cracked and finished only 135th, plummeting to 39th overall. His best stage placing between that point and the end of the race was 59th on stage 17. He ended the race 72nd overall, over three hours behind the winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).
For a GC specialist who previously was second in the Giro d’Italia and third and fifth overall in the Vuelta a España, the showing was in stark contrast.
Asked by CyclingTips if the Mitchelton-Scott team had identified what went wrong with Chaves’ Giro campaign, sporting director Matt White said that the team had been able to pinpoint the problem.
“We have [worked out what was behind the slump in form], but I am not permitted to comment on that at the moment,” he said. “We are putting something out pretty soon regarding his health issues, but I am not going to talk about it right now. We do know what the problem is, which is good.
“We weren’t going to release anything during the Tour because the Tour is the Tour, but there is something coming out soon.”
In June Chaves said that he and the team were still struggling to understand what happened in the Giro.
In terms of what is next, both Chaves and Yates had targeted the Giro, missed the Tour and were expected to ride the Vuelta. Asked if Chaves would miss the race because of the health issues, White declined to clarify things. “Look, that will come out in time,” he said. “But Simon is definitely targeting the Vuelta for general classification.”
White also made a declaration of faith in Chaves, saying that he anticipates that both he and the Yates brothers will continue to improve.
“I think people forget as well that since we have started the journey to become a team that rides GC, we have had seven top tens and two podiums in the Giro and the Vuelta already,” he said. “We have a young group of guys – the Yates boys at 25, Esteban at 28. There is still a lot of improvement with those guys, and it is exciting.”
Click through here to read a full interview with White about the team’s future direction plus the controversial decision to pass over Caleb Ewan for selection for the Tour de France.