Coming into the Classic-like uphill finish in Liège on stage one of the Tour de France, it seemed highly probable that Sylvain Chavanel, at only seven seconds off race leader Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan), would make a bid to take over the yellow jersey. But the Swiss powerhouse easily came back on the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider, only to launch an attack himself - which in turn resulted in Peter Sagan's first victory in the French grand tour.
Overall standings between Cancellara and Chavanel finally remained unchanged, which means that the Frenchman, who turned 33 years old last Saturday, will continue to launch attacks on the yellow jersey, which he already wore for two days in 2010.
"I hadn't planned anything special for the finale," the French time trial champion nevertheless told L'Equipe. "But when I saw Cancellara drop back a bit during the climb, I decided to play my card. He's a smart one though, he already knew what he was preparing for.... But nobody let me go when I jumped, so that must mean that they are a little bit afraid of me!"
In the end, Chavanel was not surprised with Sagan's stage win over Cancellara. "It was predictable that he would not succeed. And any other scenario would have had the same outcome: Sagan on this kind of finish was unbeatable," he added, satisfied with his placing.
"It's a good sign to finish 12th on the stage despite my attack. It confirms my good sensations. The Tour has only started - now I will get on the attack!"
French national coach Laurent Jalabert also watched the racing of his possible Olympic captain closely. "Chavanel was excellent. He said he'd be a protagonist and so far, he's been on top. We'll see some Chavanel in this Tour. He's raced very little in June, he's able to do good time trials and he's courageous in the mountains. He could do a good placing in general classification," Jalabert told Sports.fr.