Team Colombia did not enjoy the best of days today, February 16th, at Trofeo Laigueglia, first Italian display of the season. Despite a strong breakaway effort by debutant Leonardo Duque, a scary crash by Esteban Chaves clearly affected the whole perspective for Claudio Corti’s team. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) took a strong win in Laigueglia after 196 km, outrspinting Francesco Reda (Androni) and Mauro Santambrogio (Fantini).
Chaves’ crash happened just after km 100, as Jarlinson Pantano explained after the race: “I was just a couple of positions behind him, he misplaced a bend’s trajectory and hit the sidewalk. Unfortunately, though, a road signal was right there in front, and he hit it badly.”
After losing consciousness for a couple of minutes, El Chavito was taken to the hospital in Pietra Ligure, where he underwent a CT scan. Team Doctor Marco Pallini reported us about the 23-year-old’s conditions: “He reported a displaced fracture to his right collarbone and also broke his left petrous bone. It was a bad crash, but apparently Esteban will not need to undergo surgery. He will stay here at the hospital for a couple of days, then we will start his path to recovery. He is relatively ok right now, hopefully he will leave this scare behind him very soon.” (We will get you further updates on Esteban’s conditions in the upcoming days).
Previously, Leonardo Duque had been a great protagonist of the day: the experienced rider worked his way into the day’s 5-man breakaway, whose advantage reached over 9 minutes before the peloton started to react. A strong push by Lampre-Merida and Vini Fantini brought the escape back within striking distance after the second climb up to the Testico, but Leonardo had the time to pass first atop both the categorized ascents, and win the day’s mountain classification.
In the finale, Lampre controlled several breakaway attempts to lead Pozzato in the best position to deliver his first win of the season. Jarlinson Pantano was the best Team Colombia rider to the line, finishing in the first group.
Meanwhile in Portugal, at the Volta ao Algarve, Colombian Sergio Henao delivered a solo win for Team Sky atop the Alto de Malhao Stage 3 uphill finish, taking over the leader’s jersey in the process. Henao distanced to the line Portuguese Rui Costa (Movistar) and Dutch Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil). Henao is also the new race leader with 1 stage to go.
Darwin Atapuma led the team on a day in which the team’s discipline and effort was not rewarded by results, as Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi explained: “We worked pretty well in the early 100 km, when the race started at a very strong pace, and the break needed 100 km to stick. Unfortunately, we missed the moment on a 12-man group attack, but we worked along with Caja Rural to bring them back in time for the finale.”
Team Colombia got to the final 4 km with 5 men in the main group – Atapuma, Michael Rodriguez, Dalivier Ospina, Jeffry Romero and Marco Corti – but they couldn’t match the change of pace of opponents with more days of racing in their legs: “We followed the plan, but we are still missing something in terms of condition. That is going to improve race after race, so to be ready when we face our core fixtures.”
Tomorrow, the Portuguese race will live its final day, with 34 km individual time trial from Castro Marim to Tavira.