Tour de France Stage 19: Sylvain Chavenel...Finally First!
He never stops trying and Sylvain Chavanel has come perilously close to winning stages in the past but his aggression has never been matched with luck or strength when it matters most. Not until the 19th stage of the 2008 Tour de France at least. Finally, he timed it all to perfection. He attacked at the 78km mark and was joined by Jeremy Roy three kilometers later. Then the pair muscled their way to an advantage of over five minutes before the sprint teams tried to spoil the party. This time, the opportunists would get the last laugh: Chavanel rode a clever sprint after leading under the ‘flamme rouge’ and opting to mark his rival from the front position. He hit out 250 meters before the line and claimed his maiden stage victory in the Tour de France. The peloton finished one minute 13 seconds behind; Carlos Sastre was 38th and will now start to consider what he has to do in the time trial of stage 20.
The Progress Report
The 165.5km 19th stage of the 2008 Tour de France, from Roanne to Montlucon, began at 1.29pm. There were 149 riders at the sign on. Damiano Cunego (LAM), who crashed at the 28km mark of stage 18 and finished 20’12” behind the winner, succumbed to the injuries sustained and did not start today. The itinerary included just two climbs: the category-three La Croix-du-Sud (at 17.5km) and the category-four cote de la Croix-Rouge (42km) and two intermediate sprints, the first in Chantelle (at 102.5km), the second in Commentry (22km from the finish). The conditions on the eve of the crucial time trial were warm with a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius with a light cloud cover and minimal chance of rain.
Four Lead For 53km
Again there was an attack at the moment of the official start but it would not succeed. The first escape to gain an advantage on the bunch came from Schumacher (GST), Martinez (EUS), Ballan (LAM) and Fedrigo (BTL) at the 16km mark. They claimed the climbing points and held an advantage of 35” on the peloton at the top. Quickstep then Liquigas then Caisse d’Epargne all led the peloton for a while. By the second climb the advantage was 1’05”. The average speed for the first hour was 45.8km/h. The escapees were caught at the 69km mark.
Chavanel And Roy Break Free
At the 78km mark, Chavanel (COF) raced into the lead and a counter-attack came close to him at 81km, that’s when Roy (FDJ) jumped across and the two Frenchmen were allowed to gain a significant advantage by the peloton which, at 85km was 1’00” behind; at 84km this had grown to 4’00”. The average speed for the second hour was 49.7km/h. The maximum gain was 5’05” at the 125 mark. That’s when all four riders from Barloworld moved ahead of the CSC team that had been leading the peloton and started to up the tempo.
At the 135km mark, Milram, Quickstep and Liquigas also joined in the chase. At 137km, the advantage of Chavanel and Roy was 4’10”. At the intermediate sprint in Commentry, Cheula (BAR) led the peloton to the line 3’25” behind Roy and Chavanel.
At the 158km mark, Chavanel overtook Lilian Jegou as the rider to have spent more kilometers on the attack than any other rider in the 2008 Tour.
Chavanel Leads All The Way To The Line
The peloton was led by sprint teams that really picked up the pace of the chase in the final 35km but couldn’t demolish the deficit it had to the two escapees. With 25km to go, the bunch was 3’40” behind; 20km to go, 3’20”; 15km to go, 2’55”… and it became clear that Chavanel and Roy would contest the stage. Chavanel took pole position after passing under the ‘flamme rouge’ and led all the way to the 250m to go mark when he opened up the sprint and held off the challenge from Roy by about a bike length.
Carlos Sastre finished in the middle of the peloton that was 1’13” behind at the finish. The Spaniard will be the final rider to start the time trial for stage 20 tomorrow. He will wear the yellow jersey for a third day in a row.