Esteban Chaves has finished 11th in stage four to confirm his Herald Sun Tour overall win (FIle).After a season foiled by injury and torn by grief, Colombian cycling star Esteban Chaves is back.
The lead rider for n team Mitchelton-Scott finished 11th in Sunday’s fourth and final stage at Kinglake to confirm the Herald Sun Tour title.
Young n rider Sam Crome (Bennelong) had the biggest win of his career when he took out stage four.
It was a dream result for Mitchelton-Scott, who took the top three overall placings.
n Cam Meyer finished 26 seconds behind his team leader and Damien Howson, the defending champion, was third at 39 seconds.
“One, two, three on GC (general classification), I can’t believe,” Chaves said.
The Colombian star took the overall lead on Saturday with his 17km solo breakaway during the climb to the finish of Saturday’s Lake Mountain stage.
Saturday was the first win for Chaves since his outstanding 2016 season.
The Herald Sun Tour title is his first overall stage race win in three years.
Chaves was primed for a big Tour de France debut last year, but his build-up was marred by a knee injury.
Then in the first week of the tour, he learned a close friend had died in a Colombian cycling accident.
Chave’s season ended prematurely in late September when he crashed during an Italian race and suffered a shoulder fracture.
He returned to racing last weekend at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, where he showed his form with a solo charge in the last couple of kilometres.
But Saturday’s storming ride up Lake Mountain proved the climber is primed for a strong season, where his Grand Tour targets will be the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
“It’s a great start, a great start. After the off-season I’ve shown good performance, been comfortable in the bunch and not panicked,” Chaves said.
“We’re going well. We need to enjoy this one.”
There was some controversy on Friday when the Tour’s chief commissaire decided to briefly neutralise the stage.
The race was forced to deviate through a 7km gravel section because of roadworks.
Some riders, including Chaves, were struggling on the gravel and the race was threatening to blow apart when the call was made to stop racing until they were back on bitumen.
Opinions divided sharply on whether the right call was made.
Sunday’s 152.1km stage was five laps of the hilly Kinglake circuit, north of Melbourne.
Rival teams repeatedly attacked but Mitchelton Scott were able to control the stage and keep Chaves safe.
The stage came down to a reduced 17-man bunch sprint and Crome beat Meyer to the line.
“I just backed myself to win from the small group – sometimes you have to ride with faith,” Crome said.