Sylvain Chavanel flies the flag for France on Bastille Day
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sylvain Chavanel flies the flag for France on Bastille Day

by Kyle Moore at 3:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
French denied holiday victory; Kwiatkowski loses grip on white jersey

Sylvain ChavanelIt has been a Tour de France wrought with difficulty for the French so far, as the home contingent is still without a stage victory, and possesses only one top five finish on a stage.

Furthermore, overall hope Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) has lost his way with illness and lack of form, and Pierre Rolland (Europcar), previously the holder of the polka dot jersey, has also begun to struggle. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) is the best-placed Frenchman overall, in ninth, and the former mountain biker rode well on Sunday’s finish on Mont Ventoux.

But picking up the prize for most aggressive rider was France’s Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), which he got for leading onto Mont Ventoux by himself, and being last man caught from the original breakaway.

The day’s ten-man break was full of top French stage racers. Former Tour stage winners in the break included Chavanel, Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ.fr), and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale), along with the respected Jérémy Roy (FDJ.fr) and Julien El Fares (Sojasun). But Movistar led the peloton and kept the break close for most of the day, and its advantage when it hit Ventoux was not nearly enough to hope for a victory from the escapees.

As it were, maillot jaune Chris Froome (Sky Procycling) added to his overall lead with the victory. Even still, Chavanel took pride in being given the red bib number for stage 16.

“I'm happy because I was the most aggressive rider on Bastille Day," Chavanel stated. “ We had a good gap, but not enough to try to go for the win. We needed to have seven or eight minutes at the foot of the Mont Ventoux to finish first. It's a pity because I think I was one of the strongest guys in the front group. But today I rode also for the public and for the spectacle. It was unbelievable to hear all the supporters on the road cheering for me and for the riders in general. I hope to have given them a good day at the Tour.

“In the next days we will see what I can do. The course is not exactly for me, because we go into the mountains, but you never know.”

Meanwhile, Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski lost his hold on the best young rider classification, perhaps for good, as climber Nairo Quintana (Movistar) took the jersey back with more high mountains looming. In spite of the loss, the Polish champion relayed nothing but positive notes from his experience on the Giant of Provence.

“Today I finally met with this Mont Ventoux — I was waiting for this stage," Kwiatkowski stated wryly. "It was unbelievable. The public on the climb is the rhythm of the race. It's something I won't forget for a long time because it was really something epic.

“Concerning my performance, I tried to stick with the peloton as normally as I could. Actually, at the beginning I was pretty okay but of course when they accelerated I wasn't able to stay with the best. For me, it's also important to improve a little bit on the climbs. Doing these kinds of races are where you can improve. You can really understand what is your level and work on it to improve again. Now I am 10th in the GC. It will probably be hard to defend the position in the next week, but as we say within the team, 'never give up.' I will try my best and it is most important to end the Tour with a great experience, and without any regrets.”

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