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Sylvain Chavanel: Looking back on 19 years as a pro – Gallery

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On the attack on stage 8 of the 2008 Tour de France

On the attack on stage 8 of the 2008 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Winning stage 2 at the 2009 Paris-Nice

Winning stage 2 at the 2009 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel on the podium after having won stage 7 - his second - at the 2010 Tour de France

Chavanel on the podium after having won stage 7 - his second - at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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To the winner, the spoils: in the yellow jersey at the 2010 Tour de France

To the winner, the spoils: in the yellow jersey at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel wins stage 6 of the 2013 Paris-Nice

Chavanel wins stage 6 of the 2013 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)
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In yellow at the 2009 Paris-Nice

In yellow at the 2009 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel celebrates being awarded the most-aggressive rider prize on the final stage of the 2008 Tour de France in Paris

Chavanel celebrates being awarded the most-aggressive rider prize on the final stage of the 2008 Tour de France in Paris (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Enjoying a spell in polka-dots as best climber at the 2008 Tour de France

Enjoying a spell in polka-dots as best climber at the 2008 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel representing France in the individual time trial at the 2012 London Olympics, in which he finished 29th

Chavanel representing France in the individual time trial at the 2012 London Olympics, in which he finished 29th (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel wins the 2008 Brabantse Pijl

Chavanel wins the 2008 Brabantse Pijl (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel wins the final time trial and with it the overall classification at the 2012 Three Days of De Panne

Chavanel wins the final time trial and with it the overall classification at the 2012 Three Days of De Panne (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Resident in the French national champion's jersey at the 2012 Tour of Oman

Resident in the French national champion's jersey at the 2012 Tour of Oman (Image credit: Getty Images)
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On the attack with Peter Sagan at the 2012 Tour of Oman

On the attack with Peter Sagan at the 2012 Tour of Oman (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Behind the scenes with Quick-Step teammate Tom Boonen as Chavanel readies himself, and his red leader's jersey, for stage 7 of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana

Behind the scenes with Quick-Step teammate Tom Boonen as Chavanel readies himself, and his red leader's jersey, for stage 7 of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Celebrating in Paris as the most-combative rider at the 2010 Tour de France

Celebrating in Paris as the most-combative rider at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Time trialling in the French national champion's jersey at the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine

Time trialling in the French national champion's jersey at the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Leading the way at the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine

Leading the way at the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine (Image credit: Getty Images)
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So close! Chavanel misses out at the 2011 Tour of Flanders to Nick Nuyens

So close! Chavanel misses out at the 2011 Tour of Flanders to Nick Nuyens (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Back in yellow. Chavanel takes the maillot jaune for the second time after taking a second stage win at the 2010 Tour de France

Back in yellow. Chavanel takes the maillot jaune for the second time after taking a second stage win at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chvanel takes the applause after winning his second stage at the 2010 Tour de France

Chvanel takes the applause after winning his second stage at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel enjoys his day in the leader's golden jersey at the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, before it changed colour to become a red leader's jersey in 2010

Chavanel enjoys his day in the leader's golden jersey at the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, before it changed colour to become a red leader's jersey in 2010 (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel gets the better of FDJ's Jeremy Roy to win stage 19 of the 2008 Tour de France

Chavanel gets the better of FDJ's Jeremy Roy to win stage 19 of the 2008 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel in a breakaway with his contemporary Thomas Voeckler at the 2008 Tour de France

Chavanel in a breakaway with his contemporary Thomas Voeckler at the 2008 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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On the attack en route to winning the 2008 Brabantse Pijl

On the attack en route to winning the 2008 Brabantse Pijl (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel wins the 2008 Dwars door Vlaanderen

Chavanel wins the 2008 Dwars door Vlaanderen (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel shows his compatriots a clean pair of (pink) hills on his way to winning stage 6 of the 2008 Paris-Nice in Cannes

Chavanel shows his compatriots a clean pair of (pink) hills on his way to winning stage 6 of the 2008 Paris-Nice in Cannes (Image credit: Getty Images)
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On the attack on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France

On the attack on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Trailing FDJ's Philippe Gilbert in a break on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France

Trailing FDJ's Philippe Gilbert in a break on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel makes his way back to the peloton after crashing at the 2006 Tour de France

Chavanel makes his way back to the peloton after crashing at the 2006 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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On the attack as French champion at the 2011 Tour de France

On the attack as French champion at the 2011 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Muddy Hell: After having taken a tumble at the 2011 edition of Paris-Roubaix

Muddy Hell: After having taken a tumble at the 2011 edition of Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Enjoying the limelight in yellow at the 2010 Tour de France

Enjoying the limelight in yellow at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel takes the victory on stage 2 of the 2010 Tour de France

Chavanel takes the victory on stage 2 of the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel takes the first Tour de France yellow jersey of his career after winning stage 2 in 2010

Chavanel takes the first Tour de France yellow jersey of his career after winning stage 2 in 2010 (Image credit: Getty Images)
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In yellow shadowing Alberto Contador at the 2009 Paris-Nice

In yellow shadowing Alberto Contador at the 2009 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Time trialling at the 2007 Tour de France

Time trialling at the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel drives the breakaway on stage 11 of the 2007 Tour de France

Chavanel drives the breakaway on stage 11 of the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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In the polka-dot jersey on stage 9 of the 2007 Tour de France

In the polka-dot jersey on stage 9 of the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Alone at the head of affairs on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France

Alone at the head of affairs on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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head badge on Anthony Clark's Squid CX

head badge on Anthony Clark's Squid CX (Image credit: Getty Images)
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head badge on Anthony Clark's Squid CX

head badge on Anthony Clark's Squid CX (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel (left) finishes stage 3 of the 2004 Four Days of Dunkirk hand-in-hand with Brioches-La-Boulangere teammate Didier Rous, who won the stage

Chavanel (left) finishes stage 3 of the 2004 Four Days of Dunkirk hand-in-hand with Brioches-La-Boulangere teammate Didier Rous, who won the stage (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Kissing the maillot jaune at the 2010 Tour de France

Kissing the maillot jaune at the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Refuelling in yellow as leader of the 2010 Tour de France

Refuelling in yellow as leader of the 2010 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel becomes the French road race champion in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 2011

Chavanel becomes the French road race champion in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 2011 (Image credit: Getty Images)
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One of Chavanel's proudest moments: winning the 2013 World Championships team time trial with Omega Pharma-Quick Step

One of Chavanel's proudest moments: winning the 2013 World Championships team time trial with Omega Pharma-Quick Step (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riding for IAM Cycling, Chavanel crosses the finish line to win the 2014 Bretagne Classic Ouest France

Riding for IAM Cycling, Chavanel crosses the finish line to win the 2014 Bretagne Classic Ouest France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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In a trademark tuck during stage 7 of the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine

In a trademark tuck during stage 7 of the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel wins stage 6 to Nice ahead of BMC's Philippe Gilbert at the 2013 Paris-Nice

Chavanel wins stage 6 to Nice ahead of BMC's Philippe Gilbert at the 2013 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Lance Armstrong lets a young Sylvain Chavanel know that he's there, with the American on his way to winning stage 15 of the 2003 Tour de France to Luz-Ardiden

Lance Armstrong lets a young Sylvain Chavanel know that he's there, with the American on his way to winning stage 15 of the 2003 Tour de France to Luz-Ardiden (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Doing what he does best: Chavanel breaks away on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France

Doing what he does best: Chavanel breaks away on stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Enjoying himself with the French national team at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands

Enjoying himself with the French national team at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands (Image credit: Getty Images)
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In time trial mode at the prologue of the 2012 Tour de France

In time trial mode at the prologue of the 2012 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel wins the French time trial championships in 2011

Chavanel wins the French time trial championships in 2011 (Image credit: Getty Images)
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A picture of concentration ahead of the 2011 French time trial championships - an event Chavanel would win six times during his career

A picture of concentration ahead of the 2011 French time trial championships - an event Chavanel would win six times during his career (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel enjoy's a joke with Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins during the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine

Chavanel enjoy's a joke with Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins during the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine (Image credit: Getty Images)
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French national champion Sylvain Chavanel enjoys signing some autographs at the 2011 Tour de France

French national champion Sylvain Chavanel enjoys signing some autographs at the 2011 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Chavanel cools down at the 2003 Tour de France

Chavanel cools down at the 2003 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie)

Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Christian Prudhomme speaks with Sylvain Chavanel after Paris-Tours

Christian Prudhomme speaks with Sylvain Chavanel after Paris-Tours (Image credit: Getty Images)

Sylvain Chavanel pulled down the curtain on a 19-year pro career at the Chrono des Nations time trial in Les Herbiers, France, on Sunday, and says that he'll now take the time to decide what to do next.

He told France 3 in a TV interview that we wouldn't mind starting his own pro team one day, but acknowledged that putting something like that together doesn't just happen overnight, so don't be surprised to see him making appearances at various races next season as he makes the transition from rider to former rider.

The 39-year-old Frenchman has enjoyed a hugely successful couple of decades at the top of his game, taking 45 career wins, including victory at the 2014 Bretagne Classic Ouest-France, three stage wins at the Tour de France – with two spells in the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour in 2010 – plus three stage wins at Paris-Nice, the 2011 French road race championships and six national time trial titles.

He also holds the record for the most starts at the Tour de France, with 18 – finishing 16 of them – having ridden in his home race every year from 2001 to his last ride at La Grande Boucle this summer.

While extremely useful against the clock, Chavanel became best known as a breakaway specialist, and it was that panache as a have-a-go hero that both netted him a number of wins but also – perhaps most importantly – endeared him to the French public, who arguably love a rider who tries to win more than a rider who actually wins.

Check out our giant gallery above of some of the best and most memorable moments of Chavanel's 19-year career.