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With a dominant ride on the 23km course, Chavanel beat Kelderman by 30 seconds in the time trial at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes to move into the lead; Oliveira was third

Photo: Sirotti

DIRECT ENERGIE

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NELSON OLIVEIRA

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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TOUR DU POITOU-CHARENTES

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WILCO KELDERMAN

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25.08.2016 @ 18:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) proved that he is still a force to be reckoned with in professional cycling when he powered to victory in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes time trial. With a dominant performance, he beat Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) by 30 seconds on the flat 23km course and so moved into the lead on the eve of the final stage.

 

For years, Sylvain Chavanel has been the dominant French time triallist and he has multiple national titles on his palmares. Hence, it is no surprise that he is a three-time winner of the flat Tour du Poitou-Charentes which is usually decided in a time trial.

 

However, Chavanel has not been at his best in 2016 and after he was beaten at Nationals and by Nairo Quintana in the Route du Sud TT, he was starting to ask questions about his abilities in his preferred discipline. Hence, he had flown a bit under the radar for today’s decisive race against the clock in the race in Poitou-Charentes.

 

Today Chavanel proved that there is still power in the old legs as he was in a class of his own on the flat 23km course. In a field loaded with strong specialists, he beat his nearest rivals by a massive 30 seconds and put himself in the perfect position to claim a fourth overall win tomorrow afternoon at the end of the final stage.

 

Chavanel was up against the likes of Wilco Kelderman, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nelson Oliveira , Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Søren Kragh (Giant-Alpecin) and Gianni Moscon (Sky). However, none of them were even close to the strong Frenchman who stopped the clock in 26.51.

 

The best of the rest was Kelderman who was 30 seconds slower and fractions of a second faster than Oliveira. Roglic confirmed that he has a great future in the discipline by taking fourth while Moscon again showed his great form with a fifth place. Kragh had to settle for 9th while Dowsett had a hugely disappointing day with 11th place.

 

Chavanel was one of the last specialists to start so when he took the lead, it was only Oliveira who could pose a threat. When the Portuguese came up short, Chavanel just had to wait for the sprinters and race leader Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) to finish their rides before he could step onto the podium.

 

Chavanel now also leads the race overall with a 30-second advantage over Kelderman and Oliveira. He just needs to get safely through the final stage but it will be hardest of the race. There are two small climbs – 800m at 5% and 500m at 6% - inside the first 25km and a 1km climb at 6% at the midpoint. With 40km to go, the riders will tackle a 700m climb at 7% and then they will hit the 13.7km circuit. It includes a 500m wall at 11% which the riders will tackle a total of three times. They will do two full laps of the circuit, tackling the climb for the final time with 2.8km to go.

 

A course for the specialists

After the morning stage, the riders were already back in the saddle in the afternoon when they tackled the time trial. This year the riders covered 23km between Saint Saviour and Chatellerault and they were mainly flat. There aren’t many technical challenges either, meaning that the rouleurs were expected to shine.

 

Sebastien Chavanel (FDJ) was the first rider to roll down the ramp on another brutally hot day in France and he stopped the clock in 32.03 to move into the lead. Dorian Godon (Cofidis) was the second rider to arrive and his time of 31.16 was even faster.

 

Best time for Feillu

Thierry Hupond (Delko) became the first rider to go below the 30-minute mark with 29.46 but he had barely caught his breath before Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) stopped the clock in 28.29 to slot into the lead. Moreno De Pauw (Topsport) followed in his slipstream to post the third best time of 31.01.

 

Xabier Zandio (Sky) posted a time of 30.01 to move onto the provisional podium and Jordan Levasseur (Armee) wasn’t much slower with 30.13. However, it was Cofidis TT specialist Gert Joeaar who became the first threat for Feillu but 29.32 was only got enough for second.

 

No threats to Feillu

Jonathan Hivert (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Alexandre Pichot (Direct Energie) and Benoit Jarrier (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) were all briefly in the top 5 before Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) slotted into fourth with 30.00. However, it was Benjamin Thomas (Armee) whoc gave Feillu a scare but he missed out on the lead by 24 seconds.

 

Benoit Sinner (Armee) became the fifth rider to go below the 30-minute mark with 29.52 but he was quickly knocked into sixth by Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) who posted the third best time of 29.02. His teammate Robert Wagner also had a good ride with 29.27 as did Ruben Pols (Topsport) with 29.38 and Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin) with 29.36.

 

Voeckler comes up short

Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) was expected to be a threat but 28.45 was only good enough for second for the German. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) then slotted into the top 5 with 29.26 but it was Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) that most were waiting for. However, the former winner could only manage 28.49 to slot into third.

 

Maxime Cam (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) made it into the top 10 with 29.34 before Yoann Offredo (FDJ) slotted into sixth with 29.22. Moments later, Boris Dron (Wanty) gave Feillu another scare but 28.46 was only good enough for third.

 

Moreno takes the lead

There was a provisional top 10 for Filippo Pozzato (Wilier) with 29.28 but it was a teammate who ultimately beat Feillu. Daniel McLay stopped the clock in 28.27 and that saw him take the lead with a 2-second advantage.

 

Julen Amezqueta (Wilier) made it into the top 3 with 28.43 but he could barely hold off his one-minute man Javier Moreno (Movistar). The Spaniard stopped the clock in 28.09 to take over the lead, beating McLay by 18 seconds.

 

Kragh moves into the hot seat

Simono Antonini (Wanty) and Alberto Nardin (Androni) both slotted into the top 10 with 29.12 and 29.03 respectively but now the big-hitters were starting to arrive. Unsurprisingly, Søren Kragh Andersen (Giant-Alpecin) was on a great ride and be became the first rider to go faster than 28 minutes with a time of 27.59

 

The disappointment for Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was huge when he stopped the clock in 28.08 to take second place and Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) has also hoped to do better than 28.39. Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) did surprisingly well with 28.31 and Ignatas Konovalovas (FDJ) and Damien Gaudin (Ag2r) were also up there with 28.37 and 28.34 respectively.

 

Best time for Kelderman

Kragh’s time was beaten when Jeremy Roy (FDJ) stopped the clock in 27.48 but he didn’t even lead the stage for a single minute. Moments later, Roglic powered to the finish in 27.24 to move into the hot seat.

 

Anthony Roux (FDJ) made it two FDJ riders in the top 3 with a time of 27.46 before Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r) slotted into the top 10 with 28.27. However, it was a teammate who beat Roglic as Kelderman was 3 seconds faster with 27.21.

 

Chavanel wins the stage

Moscon proved his huge talent by posting the third best time of 27.42 and Jorge Arcas (Movistar) also did really well with 28.15. At this point, however, everybody knew that Chavanel was flying and he stopped the clock in 26.51 to become the only rider to go faster than 27 minutes.

 

Sam Oomen (Giant-Alpecin) did well with 28.11 as did Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) with 28.03. Ben Swift made it two Sky riders in the top 10 with 27.53 but everybody knew that the only real threat for Chavanel was Oliveira. However, the Portuguese had to settle for third with 27.21. With mainly sprinters left on the course, Chavanel only had to wait for Bouhanni to stop the clock in 32.28 before he could step onto the podium as the winner.

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