Although still suffering after his crash in stage five, French national champion Sylvain Chavanel once again showed his combative spirit and tried to celebrate Bastille Day during yesterday's stage to Luz-Ardiden. On the La Hourquette climb, the Quick Step rider jumped away from the bunch in the company of Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) in an attempt to bridge up to the early breakaway.
While former polka-dot jersey wearer Hoogerland quickly faltered, Chavanel and Kreuziger pressed on and closed to within a minute and a half of the breakaway. The Czech rider proved stronger than the Frenchman, and Chavanel faded before hitting the final climb to Luz-Ardiden. However he was upbeat about his attack.
"It was important to me to show the tricolore jersey on July 14 - I hope the spectators appreciated it," he explained to reporters at the finish.
Set back by a shoulder injury as a result of his earlier crash, it is the first time the three-time Tour stage winner has been seen at the front of the race. Last year he won two stages and twice wore the yellow jersey.
"We rode well, but to be honest, I pedalled more with my head than with my legs," the 32-year-old said. "In the coming days, I will try again if I get the chance."
Chavanel added that he is feeling better and better as the race unfolded, and hoped to be back in the action in the third week. "At the start of the stage, I felt better than I've felt for the past few days, so we'll see what the third week brings. But it's not really my Tour this year..."
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