By Hedwig Kröner in Roanne
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel will change teams and ride for Belgian squad Quick Step as of next year. The Cofidis rider has decided to focus on the Flemish Spring Classics, where he scored two impressive solo victories this year: Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Brabantse Pijl. "Quick Step, to me, is the best Classics team," he said on Thursday morning at the Tour de France stage 18 start in Bourg d'Oisans. "I discovered what I can do in these races in the beginning of the season. So now I'd like to confirm my worth in a very good team."
The 29 year-old is thereby following the footsteps of other Classics specialists such as Nick Nuyens and Stijn Devolder, whose career breakthroughs were achieved in Patrick Lefevere's team. Chavanel also hopes for this, even though he knows a good part of his job will be to help Tom Boonen to further victories. "I think that I can be a luxury domestique for Boonen," he continued. "But depending on team tactics in certain races, I will be able to play my card. I think this strategy has served many riders before, like Nick Nuyens and Stijn Devolder. We will see if I can take advantage of it."
Chavanel has been with French team Cofidis for several years. He was hailed as one of France's biggest cycling hopefuls until he finally delivered the long-awaited victories this year, winning stages in Paris-Nice and Volta a Catalunya, as well as the above-mentioned half Classics. But Chavanel said the Belgian team wanted to sign him before. "My victories in Waregem [where Dwars van Vlaanderen ended -ed.] and at the Brabantse Pijl helped this transfer, but Quick Step had made offers to me in the last few years. I think that signing me is also good for their sponsor, which needed a French rider."
Asked if there were other French riders joining him at the Belgian team, he replied, "For integration, it would probably be nice if that was so. But you'll have to ask the other riders if they will."