Chavanel Takes Stage 6 of Paris-Nice 2013
"Chava," as the French veteran is nicknamed, jumped world road race champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) to take the rugged, 220-km ride from Manosque to Nice in 5:14:23. Gilbert took second, and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) finished third. Richie Porte (Sky) is the overall leader on the race's penultimate day.
The racing started early. At 6.5 km, on the day's first climb, the Category 3 Cote du Bois de Rousset, Egor Silin (Astana) sallied off of the front and 10 riders joined him. They were Eduard Vorganov and Gatis Smukilis (both from Katusha), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Arnold Jeannesson (Francaise des Jeux), Julien El Fares (Sojasun), Borut Bozic (Astana), Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Johann Tschopp (IAM Cycling). The bunch kept the break on a short leash, and the escapees' lead maxed out at about three minutes.
Attrition took its toll, and on the descent of the Category 3 Col du Ferrier only Tschopp, Jeannesson, Silin, Clarke, Bardet, and Vorganov remained in the break. BMC and Sky drove the peloton, which reeled in the six with 41 km left. Chavanel, teammate Peter Velits, and Andriy Grivko (Astana) sallied off of the front, but Sky had the field on lockdown.
The British squad took the field into the last km. BMC brought up Gilbert to take the bunch sprint. The Belgian jumped into the lead with 300 m left, but he made his move too soon. Chavanel came around him for the win.
"I am super happy," said Chavanel after the stage. "It's the second time I won here in Nice, after my victory in 2008. It's always a great emotin to raise the arms here. Today, I decided to do the sprint because I was looking for some points for the green jersey. There was a headwind in the finale, so I asked [teammate] Kevin De Weert to stay near me. He did a great job, and he left me in the perfect position on the wheel of Gilbert and [Samuel] Dumoulin [of Ag2r]. With the bonification fixation I took, I'm now third. Tomorrow will be difficult for me, but I will do my best to stay in the top 10.
"Today is a special day for the team," Chavanel added. "[Teammate Michal] Kwiatkowski [being] the new leader at Tirreno is great news. I'm happy for him and the team, and I hope he can keep the jersey as long as he can."
In the overall, Porte leads Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) by 0:32 and Chavanel by 0:42. Stage 7, the final one of Paris-Nice, will be a 9.6-km uphill time trial from Nice to Col d'Eze. With 1:06 between positions one and ten, the stage will determine the final GC positions of the riders. Porte's first place seems safe, but every other place in the top 10 is up for grabs. Who will rise? Who will drop? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!