5 september 2015
Johan Esteban Chaves. He was born on the 17th of January, 1990. He grew up in Bogotá, Colombia. His dad, Jairo, was a huge fan of cycling and it was because of him that Chaves started cycling at the age of 13. In 2009, he signed with a Colombian continental team. In 2011, he was the winner of the Tour de L’Avenir, a race held in France for talented riders under 23. In 2012, he became a professional rider with the newly formed Colombia-Coldeportes. In that year, he won a stage in the Vuelta a Burgos with a finish uphill. It was all going well for Chaves until the crash in the Trofeo Laigueglia in February, 2013. He does not know anything about the crash anymore, which left him with several fractures and a head trauma. After surgery on his collarbone, he went back to Colombia to recover. But soon there were problems with lifting his right arm. His doctor told him that there were damages to the nerves in his right arm and he might never fully recover from it. Shocked by this news, Chaves started with therapy. So every day, he was doing 6 to 8 hours of therapy. Eight weeks later the EMG showed no improvement. Devastated by this news, his doctor decided to operate on his right arm. Instead of riding his first Grand Tour in Italy, Chaves was sitting at home, not knowing if he would ever race again. He was happy for the team, but it was also hard for him to watch. On the 30th of May, the surgery was planned. The plan was to cut off the bad part of the nerve in his arm and connecting the good parts. But during the surgery, the doctor faced another problem. Because of the damage to the nerve, they were 3 centimeters short. The doctor in charge knew that Chaves was a professional cyclist and so he opened up the foot of the rider and took out a part of a nerve there. After the surgery, a long recovery began with the full support of his family. Chaves always stayed positive, although there were also days were he didn’t see things clearly anymore. Until the day Neil Stephens from Orica-GreenEDGE called. Chaves was still recovering from the surgery, his future was unknown, but Stephens reached out to him and offered him a contract. He moved to Girona. He was thankful to the team for taking him in. There was no pressure in his first year at Orica-GreenEDGE. The priority was to feel good again. To feel the wind, to ride with other riders and to feel like a professional rider again. Nonetheless, he won a stage in the Amgen Tour of California and one in the Tour du Suisse. In september, he finally finished his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. In 2015, he finally started in the Giro d’Italia, a race to his heart. He wanted to go for a good classification, but the Giro was tough, hard and long and Chaves finished 55th overall. After the race he stated that he was still happy and with a big smile he said: “Now I can say I am a professional rider”. Two weeks ago, he started in the Vuelta a España. Winner of stage two. Winner of stage six. Wearing the red leader’s jersey for six days. A dream came true for Chaves. Still, last year he already knew this. He stated in an interview: “I work hard, and I know that through that hard work, and patience, good things come. And that’s the only way to go about living, and the only way to take on this sport.” Sometimes, hard work pays off. Sooner than expected. Esteban Chaves. He is on his way to become Colombia’s new hope.