Esteban Chaves declared his return to form, with an impressive performance in the mountains and eventual fifth place on stage three of La Vuelta.
A reduce bunch arrived at the foot of the final climb, 11kilometres from the finish line, when Team Sky pushed the pace at the front. Now leader, Chris Froome attacked from his team’s aggressiveness and Chaves was the only rider able to go with him.
The pair created the climb together but were caught on the descent and final straight to the line by two small groups. Eventually nine riders sprinted for the stage victory with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) taking the honours.
“I feel again like one rider,” Chaves said. “I arrived in the first group with the best riders in the world so I’m really happy.”
“It was a really unbelievable final. Sky did a really good job and I am also really happy because the team works unbelievable and I can stay with Froome on the climb.
“In the final I can’t really change with him in the flat, but anyway we arrive in the first group and I am happy for that.
“I want to congratulate Jack Haig. He is a really young fella, and he was still there in the front before the last climb and this is really good to start in this form.”
Chaves now sits in sixth overall, 11seconds behind leader Froome.