Eyebrows may have been raised at Sylvain Chavanel’s exclusion from the French team for the world championships road race in Florence, but the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider has explained that it was his decision to forgo the event and concentrate on Wednesday’s individual time trial.
“I’m a very clear guy, and I know what I’m capable of at a given moment. Right now, I don’t feel myself capable of being in the shake-up on a finale like the one in Florence next week, and I don’t want to feel useless,” Chavanel told L’Équipe.
A conversation with Cadel Evans during last weekend’s WorldTour races in Quebec helped Chavanel make up his mind. The demanding haul up to Fiesole and the sharp climb of Via Salviati make the Florence Worlds course among the toughest of recent years, and he felt that it would be difficult to perform without having raced the Vuelta a España.
“I didn’t change my mind, I just wanted to wait for those two races to judge myself. I understood there that I wouldn’t be competitive in a 280km race like the Worlds,” said Chavanel. “Cadel Evans described the circuit and the climb in Florence and that convinced me that it wasn’t for me.”
In Chavanel’s absence, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) will lead a French team that also includes the young and in-form Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), who won two stages at the Vuelta a España, and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who finished 7th overall at the Vuelta.
“I don’t think that this French team needs me,” Chavanel said. “You have to know when to leave the keys to the new generation. We have some very talented young riders and if you always have older riders there, they won’t have the opportunity to blossom.”
For his part, Voeckler downplayed the prospect of being the outright leader of new coach Bernard Bourreau’s first Worlds team and said that he would prefer simply to have a free role.
“I’m not coming out of the same season in terms of performance [as last year] even though I’ve still won five races. I haven’t had a bad season, but I don’t have the same legitimacy as leader either,” Voeckler told L’Équipe.