Chavanel calls time on his pro career

Direct Energie's Sylvain Chavanel finished his professional career with fifth place at the Chrono des Nations in Les Herbiers, France, on Sunday.

The Frenchman has called time on a 19-year pro career that has included six national time trial titles, the 2011 French road race championships, three stage wins at Paris-Nice, victory at the 2014 Bretagne Classic Ouest-France, and three stage wins at the Tour de France, with a spell in the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour in 2010.

While taking 45 wins over almost two decades at the highest level is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, Chavanel said in a television interview with France 3 that he's simply proud to be remembered by fans as a coureur de panache – the kind of rider unafraid to go on the attack and animate a race, with such moves occasionally resulting in the win, but often simply endearing the likes of Chavanel to the public.

"I'm in a category of riders that don't win that often because you take risks, you try to go from a long way out," he said. "You play with the peloton and try to stay out there for as long as possible to try to win, but it often doesn't work."

Chavanel completed 16 out of the 18 Tours de France he started – with 18 Tours being the most that any rider has ever started – but called the 2010 edition "the most beautiful of my career", as, on top of two stage wins and the chance to wear the yellow jersey, he was also named the most combative rider at that year's race – all after having come back from a crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier in the season that had left him with a fractured skull.

"I've got no regrets," he said of his long career, "because I always gave it my maximum, and was always true to myself."

Chavanel also revealed that, like a number of pros dream of doing, he'd like to one day set up his own professional team, potentially based out of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in south-west France, where he hails from.

"It's definitely something I've thought about, but it's not easy, as you have to try to find the right people to be part of it, and then find people willing to sponsor the team."

In the meantime, he's going to take the time to decide on his next move.

"I'm lucky enough to have the time to choose my future," he said. "But after 19 years of being 100 per cent devoted to cycling, I don't want to leave it behind completely."

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