Some 50 metres after the summit finish line of the stage 1 time trial at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Wednesday, close to where the climb’s badly tarmacked road finally petered out for good in the roughly ploughed countryside, Esteban Chaves wheeled to a halt.
After a quick swig of water, Chaves hugged a Mitchelton-Scott staff member to say thanks, and one imagines, out of pleasure and relief, too. The tarmac on Valenciana’s first climb might end just a few metres away, but after more than eight months without racing, this was where Chaves found himself – finally – fully back on the path he wanted to be on.
Barring the Mitchelton-Scott staff member and two journalists, nobody else was waiting for the Colombian, but as Chaves said, it the fact that he is simply riding again that matters.
“I’m pleased,” Chaves said. “It’s incredible to be back again, to be with friends in the team and at the finishes, and to be racing once more.
“But it’s different too. Everything in itself feels like a victory now – after what happened to me.”
In the Giro d’Italia, after a strong start with a stage win on the Mount Etna, Chaves was poleaxed by a combination of viral infections, including glandular fever, a sinus infection and allergies.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com