An attack from the field by Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
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Belgian team wins 23 races in three months
Sylvain Chavanel continued Omega Pharma-QuickStep‘s startling beginning to the season by winning the Three Days of De Panne thanks to victory in the concluding time trial. In spite of the extraordinary haul of 21 victories secured by his teammates in the opening three months of the season, Chavanel was surprisingly still itching to get off the mark when he rolled down the start ramp in De Panne.
“It’s always a relief when you bring wins to the team,” Chavanel said in his post-race press conference. “I’m here to win races for the team and I’ve won two in one day, so I’m really happy. The team already had more than 20 wins and I was one of the riders who had yet to open his account.”
After surgery to correct a herniated disc during the winter, Chavanel was concerted in his off-season efforts to regain his time trialling form. The fruits of his labour were apparent on Thursday, when he put four seconds into Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and a remarkable 17 into Svein Tuft (GreenEdge) on the 14.7km course to take the stage and the overall victory.
“It was my third time trial of the year. I was 4th in the time trial at San Luis and 6th at Paris-Nice, so I was so proud to win this one, especially as I was up against Westra, Tuft and Durbridge, guys who are good rouleurs.”
The Tour of Flanders dominates Flemish thoughts as March turns to April, and in spite of Chavanel’s protestations, there was more interest at the press conference in dissecting his Ronde chances than in discussing his first victory since the French national championships last June.
Chavanel’s display on Thursday also saw him reel in Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s 22nd and 23rd victories of the season. Their haul to date is just two shy of the team’s entire tally for the past two years combined; a frankly astonishing
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