Sylvain Chavanel and Jérôme Pineau see opportunities in Tour de France route
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sylvain Chavanel and Jérôme Pineau see opportunities in Tour de France route

by Ben Atkins at 4:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Quick Step’s French pair hoping for a better 2012 race after bad luck this year

sylvain chavanelQuick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel and Jérôme Pineau were two of the heroes of the first half of the 2010 Tour de France, but bad luck blighted their races this year. Chavanel suffered a bad crash on stage five, where he landed on his head, and almost abandoned the race, but was persuaded to carry on and was active in the final week. Riding the race in the French champion’s tricolore his best finish of fifth on stage 17 to Pinerolo was a far cry from his two wins, and two days in yellow the year before.

“Nice Tour and excellent route,” said Sylvain to the press at the route presentation in Paris. “There are stages that are just right for stage hunters like myself, right from the very first days of the race. There are also only 2 high altitude finishes in the mountain stages; this should favour the attackers.”

“The route is demanding,” he added. “It will be important to show up in top form from the very start. In the battle for the yellow jersey my favourites are [Alberto] Contador and [Cadel] Evans, both great performers on climbs and in time trial stages. Perhaps Evans has that little something extra in the time trials while Contador could blow up the Tour on the climbs.

“It will also be a great race for the fans,” he added.

Pineau too, had a disappointing Tour this year, having been attacking alongside Chavanel, and spending a few days in the polka-dot mountains jersey in 2010. Like his compatriot, Pineau’s best in the race was a fifth place, on stage 13 into Lourdes, but hopes for better next year.

“It’s a very beautiful route,” he explained after the presentation. “There are lots of new climbs or, in any case, routes and territories that the Tour doesn’t usually cover. As far as the battle for the yellow jersey I think that the time trials will be very important and will determine the race. At the last time trial before Paris there will still be some surprises.

“On a personal level I’m happy,” he added. “There are a few mid-mountain stages that are suited to my skills as an attacker. It will be a very nice, open Tour.”

In 2010 Chavanel and Pineau’s performances at the Tour saved an ordinary season for Quick Step, but this time around the Belgian team’s lack of big results was exposed. As a team with traditional Classics roots Quick Step has, in the past, chased stage wins through breakaways and sprint finishes; with a raft of new signings though, including former Grand Tour podium finishers Levi Leipheimer and Peter Velits, as well as World time trial champion Tony Martin, the team will approach next year’s Tour with a different perspective.

“It’s a difficult Tour,” said team manager Patrick Lefevere. "With 96 kilometres of time trials it’s definitely a Tour for riders who are strong in this specialty, especially Evans and Contador. The mountain and mid-mountain stages will be important as well, since they also provide the ground for important attacks.

“With riders like Martin, Leipheimer and Velits we’ll have everything we need to figure as major players in the race,” he added, “and of course we’ll have athletes of Chavanel’s calibre who can come up with some major actions in the course of each individual stage.”


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