Chavanel laments missed chances in classics

Sylvain Chavanel is dissapointed after a tough classics season, and will race Liège strictly as a helper

LIEGE, Belgium (VN) – A bittersweet Sylvain Chavanel is racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège knowing he has no chance of winning.

The French star will play the role of helper in the climber’s classic in what’s been a disappointing classics run for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider.

“I had great form, but I also had some really bad luck,” Chavanel told on Saturday. “My objectives for the spring are already over. I will help where I can tomorrow, and then I am heading to the beach.”

Chavanel came into the spring classics season in superb form and was hoping to improve on his breakthrough second-place in last year’s Tour of Flanders.

A stage-win and the overall at Three Days of De Panne, and second at Dwars door Vlaanderen boded well for his major targets, but the former French champion said he was knocked off the rails with some bad luck.

“The real goal was Flanders, but it was difficult to read the race on the new parcours. I was in bad position in the final, and I missed the move when Ballan attacked,” he said. “And then at Roubaix, I had a puncture in a bad moment. There was no coming back at that point of the race despite having great legs. And then at Amstel, well, I had a bit of a bonk, and the pace was very hard.”

Chavanel ended the major classics with a 10th place finish at Flanders, 27th at Paris-Roubaix, and 37th at Amstel Gold Race.

Those results were in sharp contrast to teammate Tom Boonen, who became the first rider to complete the Flanders-Roubaix double a second time.

“Sometimes you need a bit of luck. I had none, and Tom had plenty!” he said with a shrug. “The team had great success, and I am very happy for Tom. He has worked hard to come back.”

Chavanel says he’s heading south to Spain to take a break before reloading for the remainder of the season. He will not race again until the Dauphiné in June and the French national championships before a return to the Tour de France.

“The team is performing very well right now, and we can expect to have a great Tour,” he said. “We hope to have Levi (Leipheimer) and Tony (Martin) back from their injuries. For me, as always, I’ll try to win a stage and to get the yellow jersey.”

A spell in the maillot jaune this July might go a long way to alleviate the sting of his spring classics letdown.