Quick Step rider Sylvain Chavanel may not have been riding in the limelight during the Classic campaign of his Belgian team, but the Frenchman is nevertheless happy with his form going into the last event of the spring calendar on Sunday, the "Doyenne" Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"People didn't see me much this spring," Chavanel admitted, when Cyclingnews spoke to him on Friday, as he travelled on the team bus to recon the finale of the race in Ans. "Still, I was always in the right group, always within the top 25 finishers. In three big Classics I rode this spring - Milano-Sanremo, Flanders and Amstel - I always finished well."
Chavanel, a support rider to his Belgian teammate Tom Boonen in Flanders and Roubaix, has held a consistently good form throughout the last weeks, but fallen short of a top placing due to bad luck.
"In Amstel last week, I punctured with 25 kilometres to go," he said. "Still, I came back to finish 16th. In the sprint, I had no more juice left, as I had to time trial my way back to the front during 25 kilometres. But I felt good, I have good legs. Without the puncture, I could have done much better."
Except for Flanders and Roubaix, where "Boonen and Cancellara were simply out of reach", the Frenchman feels he wasn't far away from the condition needed to enter the top ten or top five. "On this level, the differences are minimal," he continued. "At the moment, I lack this final acceleration to play out my card in the finish. Of course, I would be more satisfied with my spring if I had achieved better placings. But the way it went, it's not so bad: I'm regular in my results, so I keep a good morale."
Still, Chavanel admitted that his lack of results - also compared to 2008, where he scored several high-profile victories - was, "unnerving. But you can't compare these races to the ones I won in 2008. They were all races around 200 kilometres, whereas these ones are much longer. But I definitely want to show more presence through attacking, that's more where I feel at home."
The 30-year-old has meanwhile been confirmed as captain of his team's eight-man roster for Liège on Sunday, and he intends to take advantage of this privilege.
"I hope to in the right move again in Liège," he continued. "But I will anticipate it this time, before the big war starts between the top favourites. If I have to battle it out against them in the finale, it will be very hard."
Chavanel will be joined by Stijn Devolder, who has recovered from a knee injury suffered in a crash at Paris-Roubaix. Spaniard Carlos Barredo will also compete on Sunday, having finished 19th at Amstel Gold. Barredo was also one of five members of the Liège squad to compete at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Dario Cataldo, Dries Devenyns, Jerôme Pineau and Kevin Seeldraeyers are the other men that will back-up from Flèche for the final race of the 2010 Classics season.
Full Quick Step roster for Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Carlos Barredo, Dario Cataldo, Sylvain Chavanel, Kevin De Weert, Dries Devenyns, Stjin Devolder, Jerôme Pineau and Kevin Seeldraeyers.