Chavanel calls stage nine his “best ever time trial at the Tour”
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Monday, July 09, 2012

Chavanel calls stage nine his “best ever time trial at the Tour”

by Kyle Moore at 5:58 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
French TT champion shows off tricolor with fifth place, Martin experiences more bad luck

Sylvain ChavanelAfter nabbing a third place finish in the prologue of the Tour de France, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) confirmed his current abilities against the watch with a fifth place at the first of the Tour’s two long time trials.

In the 41.5km test to Besançon, the Frenchman challenged Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) at both intermediate time checks, before coming home 27 seconds behind the Swiss former world champion. From there, he was bested by only Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), who was fourth, along with stage winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) and Wiggins’ team-mate, runner up Chris Froome.

Along with Chavanel’s result, Omega Pharma-Quick Step had Peter Velits come home seventh, and world champion Tony Martin was 12th, in spite of some more bad luck out on course. Levi Leipheimer, normally a noted time trialist but lacking a bit of spark in the Tour’s first ten days, was 32nd.

For Chavanel, the solid finish had him thinking about opportunities later in the Tour, and later this month in the Olympics.

“It was a great [time trial]. I finished very well. I had power on the climbs and I was really focussed. In the final I had a point of reference in front of me, a Katusha rider, so it was a little bit easier,” Chavanel explained. “I think it was my best TT ever at the Tour and it confirms the good progression I’ve had this year in the TT since the beginning of the season.

“Prior to the Olympics, this is not so bad. I’m in good condition and I think I can fight for a medal at the Olympics. It would be great. As concerning the Tour, I’ve tried again a lot of times and for sure I will try [to attack] again when I have the chance. Even as a team we did a great performance [in the time trial]. We are definitely among the best in this discipline.”

Velits, a former time trial stage winner in the Vuelta a España, made some noise on stage nine after a relatively quiet early portion of the Tour. The Slovakian used his seventh place in the Besançon time trial to move from 27th to 20th overall, giving the Belgian team some more hope for a solid placing in the general classification along with Chavanel, who currently sits 16th.

“I think it wasn’t so bad, the ride,” the soft-spoken Velits remarked. “I didn't make any major mistakes. Maybe I wasn't so fast at the end, but I guess it worked out okay. Tony is world champion, Sylvain is the French champion, and I'm Slovak champion. I guess we are all good time trialists. But unfortunately, there is no team time trial in this Tour de France. I expected something better from myself in the first part of the Tour, but in the last two days it is going better and better. I hope I will have better days [ahead].”

For Martin, the German TT specialist has yet to find a stroke of good luck. He looked to be headed toward a top time in the prologue before a flat tire derailed him. Then he injured his wrist in an early road stage crash. Another wheel change in Monday’s test dropped Martin from contention for the win, though he still managed the best time when he hit the line, until Cancellara was the first to go quicker.

“At about four or five kilometres I had a flat tire again,” Martin grumbled. “It was again a disappointment. I tried the whole race to keep on fighting even if it wasn't so easy to maintain concentration and motivation. I could feel the pain in my hand every hole I hit. I was lucky the roads were not too bad so I was okay. But I still have pain and today I was riding without protection, so it was even harder.

“It’s unbelievable that so much bad luck happened to me, but I think it's not something we have to think about. We have to keep looking to the future. It's not a time to be disappointed.”

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