By Jean-François Quénet in Vallon-Pont d'Arc
When race leader Sylvain Chavanel headed to the podium of Paris-Nice after stage five to collect his third yellow jersey, he was pleased to meet stage winner Jérémy Roy, with whom he had laboured for nearly 100 kilometres on the way to Montluçon during stage 19 in last year's Tour de France. Chavanel took his first Tour stage win that day, but on Thursday it was Roy who bagged his first professional victory.
"I congratulated him and I was happy for him that he could finally grab a win, I hope he'll get other victories in the future," said the Frenchman of his compatriot and rival from Française des Jeux.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Chavanel was smarting after losing 27 seconds to Alberto Contador, but today Chavanel was smiling. "I have recovered and I've had a nice day on the bike," the yellow jersey said. "I'm still surprised that Contador has attacked me yesterday. Maybe he thought one minute wasn't enough to beat me overall? That's a good sign..."
In Saint-Étienne, Chavanel was talking about winning another stage, but now he seems to have the general classification in mind again. "I still have a little hope. I feel much better. I've never said I have no chance of winning. Contador is the best climber in the world. I don't see anybody able to beat him tomorrow up the Montagne de Lure but we shouldn't forget Saturday's stage. It's almost as hard as tomorrow's."
Two years ago, Contador waited for the final stage to Nice to secure the overall victory.