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Sylvain Chavanel's Tour diary

Sylvain Chavanel will ride the time trials in the jersey of the French National Champion.
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

Sylvain Chavanel of Team Cofidis was France's next big thing for a long time... too long. In 2008, he finally confirmed the hopes of his nation and scored five important victories in the first part of the season.

He proved his worth on medium mountain stages, but also on the hostile terrain of the Flemish spring classics. There's no doubt about it: Chavanel is on a roll this year, and now hopes to make his biggest dream come true - a stage win at the Tour de France.

July 11, 2008

Let's keep cycling exciting!

As I'm writing this, I have the maillot Ó pois, getting ready to leave the hotel for today's stage seven to Aurillac. It's really nice to be able to wear it! Yesterday, I was on the attack again together with two other French riders. But as we didn't get the chance to go all the way to the finish, the only thing I could do was to take the KOM points.

I was only two minutes away on GC, so it was normal the bunch went after us. But they never gave us more than five minutes of a lead, so it was pretty obvious that we wouldn't be able to stay away until the finish. All I wanted was to be the first to pass the penultimate climb, which I did. That's what gave me the polkadot jersey, at least for today.

I'm not sure about keeping it, though. This jersey isn't won on these small stages where there are just a few points to win. It's in the high mountains, the big cols of the Tour that you win it. Which means I need to try for another great escape later, in the Pyrenees or in the Alps. I might lose it as soon as today, actually - and that's fine. If Voeckler wants it, he can have it! I'll take it back in the next few days!

Sylvain Chavanel gained the polka dot jersey
Photo ę: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Of course, against the pure climbers, it will be hard. In the last climbs of the high mountain stages, the points count double, which means I have to be there with the best - that'll be difficult. But I don't think too much about it right now, I prefer to take it day by day.

You know, I just want to race! That may sound simplistic at first, but I'll explain: In this Tour, I get the impression that nobody really races. I mean, everybody is saving their energy for later, for the final week. I'm surprised with the peloton this year: usually, it takes ages for a breakaway to form. This year, they just let go the first guys to attack. We went with ten kilometres into the stage, and we were only three! It would have been better had we been more numerous.

And then, it's weird that only the Frenchmen attack. It seems as though the foreigners are keeping their forces up their sleeves for the last week. But I don't care about later... I don't care about a top 15 placing. That's not why I'm here. Cycling would be quite a sad affair if everybody was speculating like that. I mean, you shouldn't be afraid to take a blow. It's also much more exciting for the spectators: they want us to attack - and if we blow up on the next day, it doesn't matter! At least, we gave everything on the day we really went for it.

That's what cycling is really about in my opinion. We're not here to wait in an armchair for things to happen. I'm not here to win the Tour - those riders are in a different position. I just want to race and make things happen for me! Who cares if I suffer later... And I will, that's for sure. Today, I feel a bit more tired. I hit the pedals hard yesterday, and I was in a break already on Sunday, so there's no wonder.

We're leaving to go to the start in Brioude now. I'll send in some news again in a few days!

A bient˘t