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In the crucial 23.4km time trial in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, Chavanel was in a class of his own and beat Tuft by 44 seconds to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey

Photo: Sirotti








28.08.2014 @ 18:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) lived up to his status as favourite when he took a dominant victory in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes time trial. The Frenchman beat Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) by 44 seconds on a 23.4km course and now goes into the final stage with a comfortable overall lead.


Picking up bonus seconds in stage 1, Sylvain Chavanel had done nothing to hide his intentions in his home race, the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, and today he laid all his cards on the table in the time trial which usually decides the race. On the flat 23.4km course, the Frenchman was in a class of his own and beat Svein Tuft and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) with a big margin.


Due to his bonus seconds, Chavanel was a late starter and he faced a tough ask against Tuft who had set a very impressive time and looked like a likely winner of the stage. Already at the intermediate check, however, the Frenchman had gained 37 seconds on the strong Canadian and even though, he was unable to maintain a similarly superior speed in the second half, he won the stage with a comfortable 44-second margin.


After the morning sprint stage, the Tour du Poitou-Charentes continued with the stage that usually decides the race. The 23.4km time trial brought the riders over almost completely flat roads from Availles to Jourdain, meaning that it was a stage that was expected to suit the specialists.


The first rider down the ramp was KOM leader Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty) but he wasn’t the first rider to reach the finish. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) had started the stage two minutes later but crossed the line in a time of 31.20 as the first rider.


At the intermediate check, Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty) had been five seconds faster than Riblon but in the final part, the Belgian had lost ground. Stopping the clock in 31.58, he had to settle for the provisional second place.


Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme Marseille) pushed Ghyselinck down third but the first big threat for Riblon came from his teammate Jean-Christophe Peraud. However, the Tour de France runner-up was 15 seconds slower than his teammate and moved into second.


Blel Kadri made it three Ag2r riders in the provisional top 4 but all eyes were now on Damien Howson (Orica-EDGE). The U23 world champion had been 6 seconds faster than Riblon at the intermediate check and when he rolled across the line, he had lowered the mark by 15 seconds.


Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) again showed that he is a solid time triallist by slotting into third but the focus was on Jan Bakelants (OPQS) who had set the fastest time split. The Belgian was the first rider to go under 31 minutes when he stopped the clock in 30.42.


Nico Sijmens (Wanty), Romain Guillemois (Europcar) and Juan Esteban Arango (Colombia) all cracked the provisional top 10 but the first real test for Bakelants was Victory Campanaert (Topsport). However, the Belgian’s time of 30.45 was only good enough for second.


Petr Vakoc (OPQS) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) both slotted into the top 10 before Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli) confirmed his good form by taking 5h. Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEDGE) took 7th but everybody was now waiting for Stephen Cummings (BMC) who had set a fast split time.


The Brit stopped the clock in 30.17 to take a very comfortable lead before Stephane Rossetto (BigMat) moved into 4th. Amael Moinard (BMC) and Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) both cracked the top 10 but the first challenger for Tuft was Martin Elmiger (IAM).


The Swiss had been fastest at the intermediate split but when he crossed the line, he was 2 seconds too slow. Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE) slotted into 9th before Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) did a great ride to take third.


News about Tuft’s split time had now emerged and so it came as no surprise that he took the provisional lead. Matthias Brändle continued the great IAM showing by taking 7th while Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) slotted into 8th.


His teammate Jesus Herrada (Movistar) was slightly better in 7th while their captain Alex Dowsett could only manage fourth. Lemoine did a surprisingly good ride to take second, 14 seconds off Tudt’s mark.


The final starters were mostly sprinters and so all focus was on Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and Chavanel. While the former took the 6th best time, the latter proved his superiority by almost going below the 29-minute mark.


Race leader Mark Cavendish finished 42nd and so Chavanel takes the overall lead. He heads into the final stage with a comfortable 47-second advantage over Tuft. However, the final day offers the toughest road stage of the race as a mostly flat first part gives way for an undulating finale with two small categorized climbs and several small rises inside the final 10km.



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