Three weeks into the Vuelta a Espana and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) is still smiling. The Colombian is determined to fight for the best possible result in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, despite slipping down the general classification in recent days. Ahead of the final mountain stage, Chaves sits just outside the top 10 in 12th position, almost 12 minutes behind the race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).

The 2017 Vuelta a Espana has been a tale of two halves for Chaves. In the opening week, he was the only rider to be able to go toe to toe with Froome when the red jersey went on the attack. That hasn’t happened over the past two weeks, and in the last week, Chaves has dropped from fifth and given away almost 10 minutes to his rivals.

The time trial in Logrono played a big part in that time loss but it was Los Machucos that sounded a death knell for his position in the top 10 overall.

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Chaves says that he’s exhausted, but that is to be expected for everyone, and that this has been a steep learning curve with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana on his programme for the first time.

“I think for every single rider, before the start of stage 19, the legs are f**ked. It’s normal, no? For every single one you ask, everyone will say the same, they are tired. This is normal,” he told Cyclingnews with his now-trademark laugh. 

“It is different this year for me ,it is the first time that I have done the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana in the same season so everything is new for me. We tried to do the best we could in the general classification and this is still the objective. We keep that in mind. We will see, there is another super hard day and we will have to go super deep for sure and we will see what happens.”

A two Grand Tour learning process

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