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Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in his French champion's kit
Frenchman hopes for better luck on the cobbles
Chavanel led the Tour de France on two occasions in 2010 and has also worn the leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a España in 2008 and 2011, but has never ridden the Giro in 13 seasons as a professional.
“I’d love to be there some day – it’s the only grand tour that I haven’t done and the only leader’s jersey that I’m missing,” Chavanel told La Nouvelle Republique. “I’m thinking about it. Why not next year? I’m going to talk about it with my team.”
Chavanel has started every Tour de France since 2001 and he confessed that it would be particularly difficult to pass up on riding the 100th edition of the race in 2013. However, with his early season oriented firmly towards the cobbled classics, Chavanel all but ruled out riding both the Giro and the Tour.
“The Tour is something else and at a certain age, maybe I won’t take part in it anymore. You need to be in perfect condition,” he said. “This year, the first two weeks are perfect for me. On the other hand, the last week is a bit too hard. It’s probably too much to do the classics, Giro and Tour, you’ll have to make a choice.”
The cobbled classics remain Chavanel’s biggest objectives in 2013 and the Frenchman decried his ill fortune in last year’s Paris-Roubaix, when he punctured just as his teammates Tom Boonen and Nikki Terpstra launched the race’s winning move.
“I haven’t had any luck in the last two editions of Paris-Roubaix. This year, at the precise moment when Tom Boonen attacked, I punctured. When the strongmen like him go clear, it’s over for everyone behind. I had super sensations, I’d led through the Arenberg."
“The three of us, Boonen, Terpstra and me, could have attacked together, that’s for sure. Would I have cracked afterwards? Given the legs that I had, I don’t think so. But that’s easy to say now.”
Chavanel also played down the notion that he did not get along with his former Brioches La Boulangère teammate Thomas Voeckler, pointing to the fact that he worked for Voeckler as part of the French team at the world championships in Valkenburg.
“As he says himself, we’re not the best friends in the peloton, but we’re not on bad terms. We see each other, we say hello. He doesn’t bother me and vice-versa. We respect each other and that’s it,” Chavanel said, adding that at the Worlds, “It all went well between us even though everybody wanted to pit us against one another.”
Like in 2012, Chavanel will begin his new season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina but is likely to opt for the Volta ao Algarve in February rather than the Tour of Oman, feeling it offers better preparation for classics conditions. “If you race too much in the sun, you find it hard to get used to lower temperatures again,” he said.