After putting on a stunning demonstration of raw power to win the final time trial of the Driedaagse De Panne, overall champion Sylvain Chavanel was quick to play down himself as a favourite to win Sunday's Tour of Flanders. The Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider will be just one of his team's main options in Belgium's biggest Classic.
"I have 48 hours to recover after this double victory and be ready for the race on Sunday," the Frenchman said following his win.
Chavanel was the one rider who was strong enough and alert enough to quickly mark Peter Sagan in his attack on the opening stage of De Panne. That moment, and his performance in the final time trial, which he won by a 19-second margin over Katusha's Anton Vorobyev, is just one indication of his better-than-ever form.
So far this year Chavanel has been at the front of every race he entered: solid results in the Tour de San Luis and Volta ao Algarve preceded a seventh place finish in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In Paris-Nice, a strong time trial, a stage win and the overall points classification presaged his strong result in Milan-San Remo, where he was one step off the podium.
Chavanel hopes to carry this run of good form through Paris-Roubaix, but said he is not a favorite for Flanders.
"Last year I had a few little problems with my health during Paris-Nice. This year everything went good and normal so far. I'm in good condition. My objective is to maintain this form until Paris-Roubaix," he said. "As for the Ronde, I'm not one of the favorites. Sagan is strong and also [Fabian] Cancellara, but we have a strong, united team.
"We are experienced in these kind of races and also with great specialists such as Tom [Boonen] and Niki [Terpstra]. The strategy will also be important. Maybe there are also a few underdogs for the race on Sunday that can surprise everyone. We will do our best as a team and we will see!"
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