I read once that if an Italian rider wins a Giro stage, he never has to buy drinks in Italy for the rest of his life.
After his second stage win and another maillot jaune — that’s right, two rounds, folks — we suspect Sylvain Chavanel drinks for free in France. Wine, beer, aperitifs, eau minerale. If Chavanel wants a fruit smoothie, it’s on the house.
Listening to French Radio on the drive from the start in Tournus to the top of Station des Rousses, I heard an interview with the talented Quick-Step rider. He said he needed to recuperate after his first big effort but had definite plans to attack again.
Sylvain wasted no time in recovering, that’s for sure. On the final 15.7km category 2 climb of the Col de la Croix de la Serra, Chavanel said “au revois slow-pokes.”
He left his break-buddies Rafael Valls (Footon Servetto), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Daniel Moreno (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Mathieu Perget (Caisse d’Epargne) and Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) far behind.
It was a move that stuck in more ways than one. High temperatures had melted the tar and when riders passed it sounded like the tires rolled on a wet road. A long sss- sound, only lower pitched. The gray soles of my running shoes were black. Probably like riding on Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup. Not easy to ride someone off your wheel when it’s glued down.
Chavanel then caught Mister Polka Dot, teammate Jerome Pineau and Danilo Hondo and left them to deal with the man in the black thong and wig and the Sponge Bob impostor. There should be a law against public intoxication while in possession of a wig and thong.
I was about 3.5 kilometers from the finish in a town called Lamoura eating a chocolate crepe and drinking beer. The town received an award from the government after world war two for harboring members of the resistance. I was thinking about how Chavanel was certainly putting up some serious resistance, himself.
Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere probably has a man-crush on Sylvain at this point. Deliver two wins in the tour and that also buys plenty of love — even in Belgium.
Chavanel’s skin is stretched so tight on his face that he reminds me of black & white horror actor Lon Chaney playing the phantom of the opera. Still, he’s got a wide smile and you can bet it’s wider after today.
He’ll have a glass of champagne tonight. He won’t be paying for the rest of his life.
Note: for other stage photos, click here or go to the flickr gallery at the bottom of the site.