Team Omega Pharma-Quick-Step rider Sylvain Chavanel put in a valiant effort to earn a stage win during Stage 3, but was caught prior to the finish.
It's this aggressive riding style that has made Chavanel a popular rider among fans in France, even if he's unable to cross the finish line first.
The 33-year-old experienced rider jumped from the peloton with about 5.5 kilometers remaining in the stage, and likely made his move a bit too early. However, he seemed to see a lull in the action, so he went all-in to try and get a stage win and the yellow jersey.
Race radio reported he had around a 12-second lead with 2.5 kilometers left, but ended up being swept up with less than 1,000 meters left in the stage.
Chavanel stands a bit too high on the overall general classification (GC), so Team BMC and race leader Fabian Cancellara’s Team RadioShack-Nissan riders helped pull back the French time-trial champion.
Chavanel spoke about his race strategy (via L’Equipe via CyclingNews):
“I hadn’t planned anything special for the finale. But when I saw Cancellara drop back a bit during the climb, I decided to play my card. He’s a smart one though, he already knew what he was preparing for… But nobody let me go when I jumped, so that must mean they are a little bit afraid of me. It’s a good sign to finish 12th on the stage despite my attack. It confirms my good sensations. The Tour has only started – now I will get on the attack.”
Have to applaud Chavanel for his attack against the peloton, as he was able to get a gap before they organized. If Chavanel can maintain this good form, he’s an experienced rider and a great opportunist, so he’s not done quite yet.
It's great to see riders decide to try and create their own opportunity for glory, and Chavanel is a cheeky veteran. He won't be done just yet, and I can't wait to see what he does next.
With sprinter Tom Boonen electing to skip the Tour, and time-trial specialist Tony Martin suffering a broken wrist, Chavanel's Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team will have to carefully pick times to attack.
American rider Levi Leipheimer is the protected general classification (GC) rider, but chasing stage wins is likely a bigger priority.