By Jean-François Quénet Sylvain Chavanel has become the French champion for the third time in three...
By Jean-FranÃ§ois QuÃ©net
Sylvain Chavanel has become the French champion for the third time in three participations. As in 2005 and 2006, he has scored the fastest time in the Burgundy region. "I'm happy to get my third title," he said when he got off his bike. "I've proven to be one of the best specialists for time trial in France, and maybe I'm even the best. But still, I'd rather win the road title on Sunday than today's time trial."
He didn't compete last year under the instructions of his Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer. "I skipped the time trial so people would forget about me in the road race, but it didn't work," he recalled. "But now, with the races I've won this year and the good form I've kept, I'll be marked on Sunday no matter what. But I'm not the favorite, I'm just one of the ten favorites." He refused to name who he sees as his most fearful opponents.
Chavanel built his win on the hill that will be used for the road race on Sunday as well. It was at the beginning of the course of the time trial and many riders put themselves in the red there and never recovered. That was the case for defending champion BenoÃ®t Vaugrenard from FranÃ§aise des Jeux who only came 22nd this time and his runner up last year Dimitri Champion of Bouygues Telecom. "I never found the rhythm," said the Parisian rider who had prepared specifically for this race as he knew that he was not in contention alongside Thomas Voeckler and co. for the Tour de France.
Also see Cyclingnews' full coverage of the National Championships.