Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) has said that he will have to attack alone if he is to win the GP Ouest France - Bretagne in Plouay on Sunday. The three-time Tour de France stage winner returned to competitive action after his hugely successful 2010 Grand Boucle at the Tour du Limousin this week, and will travel to Plouay aiming to ride his way onto the French team for the world championships.
“I’m not going to say that I’m in great condition,” Chavanel told Ouest France. “I do feel rather good, but after the Tour it’s not so easy to get going again. You always relax a little.”
Chavanel suffered from a thrombosis in the foot in early August and was forced to spend five days off the bike after his win at the post-Tour criterium at Lisieux. “Because of the heat and the tight shoes my foot swelled up,” he explained. “But everything is ok again now.”
The Quick Step star is enthusiastic about the Breton race on Sunday but recognises that it may be difficult for a rider like him to win. “It’s become a really good ProTour race so it’s not so often that a long-range break stays away until to end anymore,” Chavanel said. “There’s always a lot of movement and nervousness. We’ll have to see. In any case, if I want to win, I’ll have to escape and finish by myself. Whenever I win, it’s always alone.”
Chavanel took two spectacular solo stage victories at this year’s Tour de France, at Spa and Les Rousses, and each time did enough to take possession of the yellow jersey. He was a deserving winner of the final combativity classification at the Tour and has since signed a new contract to extend his stay at Quick Step. Chavanel’s magnificent Tour was all the more remarkable given that he suffered a fractured skull in a crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April.
Understandably, given his sparkling form this summer, Chavanel has one eye on the world championships in Australia. “They say it’s a flat course, but I’ve had information on it that says it’s also quite undulating,” he said. “You just never know with a one-day race. In any case, we’ll need a sprinter on the French team, but also some riders who can go in the breaks. I hope to be among them.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.