After one and a half months away from racing, Sylvain Chavanel will be back in action in the upcoming Tour de Suisse starting on Saturday. The Quick Step rider, who disappeared from public life since his extremely strong but also very disappointing showing in the Spring Classics, prepared the second part of the season in a three-week training camp in the French Pyrenees and hopes that it will bear fruit.
"I haven't raced since April 24, so I'm happy to be back and eager to race again. That's a good sign," Chavanel told Cyclingnews as he was heading to Lugano to the start of the Tour de Suisse. "It's been a long break, but very beneficial."
The Frenchman explained that he had last week returned from a three-week training camp at 1800m altitude, in Font-Romeu in the French Pyrenees. "I've done almost 40,000 vertical metres in those three weeks. It was hard training but perfect to build up a strong base. Last year, I noticed that the break that I had done before the Tour had been beneficial, but I still needed that to be longer to not finish the Tour too tired."
Together with three other Quick Step riders, Chavanel thus decided to get some serious climbing into his legs to prepare his participation in the Tour de France, where he hopes to win a stage again. "Perhaps I can go on a raid in the high mountains now, who knows? Last year, I won in the medium mountain station of Les Rousses [stage seven]. Maybe I could even win a more difficult stage," he ventured, without losing a realistic approach. "It's always easy to talk - we'll see what effect this training camp will have. In any case, I feel good and I now have a broader base for the upcoming races."
Chavanel admitted he also had to work on his morale after the Spring Classics. In top shape, he finished second in the Tour of Flanders and crashed in Paris-Roubaix. "After Liège, I was simply exhausted. My whole season program was centered around the Spring Classics, but I fell ill in Paris-Nice, got second in Flanders, fourth in de Panne... It was an exhausting period."
Now, Chavanel wants to leave his disappointments behind and concentrate on a successful return. "At the Tour de Suisse, I just want to continue building up, feel well and get back into the rhythm of racing. There won't be any miracles, but I'm not afraid to come back as I've done some solid work."