Sylvain Chavanel finally gets French road title
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sylvain Chavanel finally gets French road title

by Bjorn Haake at 12:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: National Championships
The Frenchman takes extraordinary race with 25km solo

sylvain chavanelSylvain Chavanel used a 25km solo to take the French road race title on Sunday. He had over half a minute on the chasing duo of Anthony Roux and Thomas Voeckler.

Chavanel took off his sunglasses as he crossed the line, leaving the French fans as witnesses to the tears he shed. He had achieved his dream. "This was a very big objective for me," Chavanel told French TV after the race. He had spent the entire week with his family in Boulogne sur Mer to prepare his race the best possible way.

Roux and Voeckler chased hard behind, cutting the lead from one minute into 30 seconds in just a couple of kilometers in the last lap. "I went deep and really into my reserves," Chavanel said. That helped to get the gap back up. "I did a great number today," Chavanel said about his solo effort.

He had his son with him, but admitted that he was too young to understand it all. "Even his dad hasn't understood it yet," Chavanel said with a big smile. The week did not start too well for Chavanel, who came in sixth in the time trial. Afterwards he said that his legs didn't feel right. "I hope it will come around until the road race." Fortunately for him, it did.

Chavanel is not new to being a French champion, but his titles in 2005, 2006 and 2008 came all in the time trial. "I am proud of myself," he said after finally winning the road race. Chavanel's victory is all the more impressive as he only had one teammate - Jérôme Pineau - whereas Europcar and Française des Jeux could field full teams.

A drag race to the line

A group of 16 took off shortly after the start. Three Europcar riders were in there, but did not provide much help. It was all for Voeckler in the Europcar team. But once the group swelled, Europcar started to pick up the pace. With six laps to go, the gap was at four and a half minutes to the peloton.

Chavanel started to show himself on the front, accelerating o some of the climbs. With four laps to go, a group of four emerged at the front: Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Cédric Pineau (FDJ), Cyril Lemoine (Saur-Sojasun) and Julien Bérard (AG2R-La Mondiale). Bérard tried solo, but the chasers came back quickly.

Chavanel put in his first attack with 60 kilometers to go - his second attack with 45 kilometers to go ended the break of the day. With 25 kilometers to go Chavanel was alone at the front. Voeckler realized the danger and a teammate brought him back to the chase group.

With 16 kilometers to go, Voeckler jumped and the group quickly disintegrated. Only Anthony Roux could follow, but the two were a minute behind Chavanel.

With 13 kilometers to go, the gap had dropped to 40 seconds. It was a drag race that came as close as 31 seconds, with less than nine kilometers to go. But then Chavanel accelerated and Voeckler and Roux tired. With seven kilometers to go, the gap was at 35 seconds - the French Championships were decided.


    1.                  CHAVANEL Sylvain         QST         6h00'25"
     2.                  ROUX Anthony         FDJ         38"        
     3.                  VOECKLER Thomas         EUC         42"        
     4.                  BERARD Julien         ALM         02'15"        
     5.                  BOUET Maxime         ALM         02'17"        
     6.                  VALENTIN Tristan         COF         02'21"   
     7.                  POUX Paul         SAU         02'23"        
     8.                  LEMOINE Cyril         SAU         02'44"        
     9.                  GALLOPIN Tony         COF         04'15"        
     10.                  ROLLAND Pierre         EUC         04'19"        


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