Chavanel takes the stage win and leaders jersey in Paris-Nice
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chavanel takes the stage win and leaders jersey in Paris-Nice

by VeloNation Press at 1:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Team Quick-Step's Sylvain Chavanel won the third stage of Paris-Nice today, and for his efforts also came away with the leader's jersey in the overall and points competition.

Team Quick-Step's Sylvain Chavanel won the third stage of Paris-Nice today, and for his efforts also came away with the leader's jersey in the overall and points competition.

In a day that was marked by nasty weather, the peloton was shattered to pieces by the time it reached the finish line. Team Rabobank showed their form by making the decisive move with around 50k left in the race. Chavanel and young teammate Kevin Seeldraeyers saw what was happening, and made the break that caught out race leader Astana's Alberto Contador.

"I knew it would be a hard stage," said Chavanel, "And when I realized that the riders from team Rabobank were organising an important move, the team and I made our move too. I’m not surprised about the advantage we had at the finish line, considering the crazy rhythm we marked during the breakaway."

As the break powered on, Chavanel continued to show the form he had in Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussells-Kuurne, putting in a major effort to have a chance at the stage. "I was concentrating on the stage, and trying not to think about the leaders jersey." said the Frenchman.

While the break continued to survive with around a minute in hand, Team Katusha drove the chase group for their overall hope Spaniard Antonio Colom. An isolated Contador seemed content to let his jersey move over to Chavanel, and go on the attack in the mountains to get it back.

In the end, it was the aggressive Rabobank team that sent Dutchman Sebastian Langenveld on the attack with around 1k to go. Chavanel, who had been watching things from the back of the break, responded immediately taking the group by surprise and began to bridge the gap alone. Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha, also with Rabobank, was the only rider able to respond to Chavanel, and as the Frenchman closed the gap on Langenveld, he was joined by Flecha. Langenveld then attacked again to make the Frenchman chase, but he didn't have much left.  An astute Chavanel was able to come over the top of Flecha in the end for a well deserved win - his first for the team.

"I’m proud of myself and the whole team. Special thanks to Kevin Seeldraeyers, that kept the rhythm going strong in the up and down sectors. I’m sure he’s going to turn out to be a surprise in this Paris-Nice. In the last kilometre I went on the attack to catch up with Langenveld and then in the final sprint I managed to pass Flecha and win."

About the mountains that loom on the horizon Chavanel said, "Now we’ll see day by day. I’ve already checked the altimetry for the next stages. The climbs aren’t impossible and I’ve already done well on routes like this in the past. Why not try to defend the jersey?"

The big questions of the day are how did Astana allow Contador to get isolated, and whether Contador made the right choice by not helping with the chase. He has a deficit of 1:03 to the crafty Frenchman in his home race. Will being on French soil and the leaders jersey be enough help for Chavanel to get over the mountains?

Stage:

1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 4.33.12 (avg 39.09 km/h)
2 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
3 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank
4 Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis
5 Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step
6 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank
7 Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto
8 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.40
9 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam 1.09
10 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom

General classification:

1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 9.29.24
2 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank 0.33
3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank 0.36
4 Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step 0.37
5 Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto 0.40
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 1.03
7 Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 1.12
8 Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis 1.14
9 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 1.17
10 Antonio Colom (Spa) Team Katusha 1.22

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