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Esteban Chaves and Alejandro Valverde get seasons off to winning starts

Joe Robinson
5 Feb 2018

Early General Classification wins tee up both riders on long return from injuries

Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) got their seasons off to winning starts at the Herald Sun Tour and Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, respectively, in their continued returns from injury.

A dominant performance on Saturday's queen stage to Lake Mountain was the deciding moment that helped Chaves take the overall victory. Attacking at the base of the climb, the Colombian managed to distance the field winning the stage by 42 seconds.

This rounded off a dominant week for Mitchelton-Scott as they took all three spots on the final podium with Cameron Meyer and Damien Howson finishing second and third respectively. 

Overall victory will no doubt come as a relief for Chaves who struggled to perform in 2017 due to personal tragedy and persistent injury. The 28-year-old will look towards overall victory at the Giro d'Italia in May.

While Chaves took the spoils in the southern hemisphere, Valverde returned to his winning ways in the northern hemisphere.

Returning from an injury sustained on Stage 1 of the 2017 Tour de France, the veteran Spaniard dominated proceedings in Valencia taking two stages on his way to overall victory.

A trademark attacking performance on Stage 2 to Albuixech saw Valverde assume the race lead before the rider proved to be the best climber in the race taking victory on the summit finish to Cocentaina on Stage 4.

The Movistar rider looked relatively comfortable on his return to racing managing to outwit and outride an underperforming Team Sky and plucky Astana. 

Throughout the race, Valverde also managed to finish within the top 50 of each stage, continuing his streak of finishing within the top 50 of each race he has started since Stage 2 of the 2016 Giro d'Italia.

The race was somewhat marred by the race jury's decision to nullify the results of Stage 3's team time trial due to bad weather despite the weather clearing before the stage start. 

Both Chaves and Valverde will hope to carry this early season form into the Spring before battling for victory in the Giro d'Italia and Ardennes Classics respectively.