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Sylvain Chavanel

Sylvain Chavanel
Chavanel in 2014
Personal information
Full nameSylvain Chavanel
NicknameChava,[1] Mimosa, La Machine
Born (1979-06-30) 30 June 1979 (age 44)
Châtellerault, France
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)[2]
Weight70 kg (154 lb; 11 st 0 lb)[2]
Team information
Current teamRetired
Rider typeAll-rounder
Amateur team
1999Vendée U
Professional teams
2014–2015IAM Cycling
2016–2018Direct Énergie[3]
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
Combativity award (2008, 2010)
3 individual stages (2008, 2010)

Stage races

Four Days of Dunkirk (2002, 2004)
Tour of Belgium (2004)
Three Days of De Panne (2012, 2013)

One-day races and Classics

National Road Race Championships (2011)
National Time Trial Championships (2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
GP Ouest–France (2014)
Brabantse Pijl (2008)
Dwars door Vlaanderen (2008)
Medal record
Men's road bicycle racing
Representing Omega Pharma–Quick-Step
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2012 Valkenburg Team time trial
Gold medal – first place 2013 Tuscany Team time trial
Men's track cycling
Representing  France
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2016 Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Team pursuit

Sylvain Chavanel[4] (born 30 June 1979) is a French former professional road bicycle racer, who rode professionally between 2000 and 2018 for the Cofidis, Omega Pharma–Quick-Step, IAM Cycling and two spells with the Brioches La Boulangère/Direct Énergie team.[5] His brother Sébastien Chavanel also rode as a professional cyclist. Sylvain Chavanel was noted as a strong all-rounder who won both sprints and time-trials, and was a good northern classics rider, taking 45 wins during his professional career.[5]


Chavanel was born in Châtellerault, France, although his family roots are in Spain. His great-grandparents were from Huesca, in the Aragon region. His grandfather was born in Barcelona and moved to Châtellerault during the Spanish Civil War. Other members of the family still live in Aragon.[4] He said: "Last year [2007], when the Vuelta was in Zaragoza, I got to know the cousin of mine using a journalist as the translator and she gave me a picture of my grandfather when he was young. Despite my origins, I hardly know a word of Spanish – just swear words".[4]

As a child he played in the garden with models of racing cyclists. He said:

We've got quite a big family and we're all into cycling. I remember playing out in the garden with my three brothers and sister with little figures that we gave names to. I was usually Greg LeMond, then later I went on to be Miguel Induráin then eventually Laurent Jalabert. I remember LeMond's accent. I liked the way he spoke French. I just thought he was a nice guy and I liked his style of riding.[6]

Chavanel began cycling at Châtellerault school when he was eight. He gave up to try football, then went back.

I started cycling again at 12 and from then on I improved every year. I was a fragile little thing, immature physically. I used to finish races halfway down the girls' field and at the back of the boys'. Everything changed the day that I beat my elder brother, Frédéric, in the cadet category, although he was better than me at the time.[6]

Racing career

He began racing when he was 13. He won 29 races on the road as a schoolboy and a junior. He won the national junior individual pursuit championship in 1997. His uncle, Philippe Raby, a former rider in the Vendée region, recommended him to Jean-René Bernaudeau who was building a professional team based there. Bernardeau saw Chavanel race for the first time at Montreveau, in Maine-et-Loire, when he was racing against riders from Bernardeau's Vendée U junior team.

Bonjour (2000–2004)

Bernardeau and Chavanel agreed that Chavanel would spend another year with his club, AC Châtellerault, which had spent time and money on his training. Bernardeau's assistant, Thierry Bricau, was given the job of providing Chavanel with a training programme. Chavanel rode the Tour de l'Avenir in 1999 and then in 2000, aged 21, he turned professional for Bernardeau's Bonjour team, sponsored by a chain of local newspapers. He won the first stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge and lost his leader's jersey only on the last day. He also won the climbers' jersey in the Tour de l'Avenir by breaking clear in the Pyrenees and rode 217 kilometres (135 miles) alone at the front of Paris–Tours.

Bernardeau said:

Sylvain has some of the faults I had as a young rider. He's always working at the front of the race – you have to rein him in for his own good. At his age, life is beautiful and risks are there to be taken. But he's acquiring self-knowledge and his days of gratuitous long-range sorties and suicide attacks are coming to an end.[7]

Chavanel rode his first Tour de France at 22, finishing 65th, later coming third in the Tour de l'Avenir behind Denis Menchov and Florent Brard. In 2002 he won the Four Days of Dunkirk and finished third in the Tour of Belgium. He later won both of those races in 2005.

Cofidis (2005–2008)

On 25 July 2008 Chavanel won the 19th stage of the Tour de France by outsprinting Jérémy Roy at Montluçon. That and other performances brought him election as the most combative rider of the race.

On 3 September 2008, he came second in the individual time trial stage of the Vuelta a España at Ciudad Real. His ride brought him to second place overall, two seconds slower than the American, Levi Leipheimer. His team worked for him next day from Ciudad Real to Toledo to make sure he won time bonuses offered along the route. The six seconds he collected were enough to give him the leader's jersey on 4 September.

Quick Step (2009–2013)

Chavanel said in 2007 that he had had offers from foreign teams but was discouraged from joining them because he was unsure of his pension payments outside France. In July 2008 he said he had agreed with Patrick Lefevere the directeur sportif to join the Quick-Step team in Belgium for 2009. Chavanel said he made his decision to move after riding well in classic races in Belgium at the start of the year.[8] He won Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Brabantse Pijl. He said:

I had other options as well. Professionally, it's an experience that can only do me good. I had the chance to sign for three years with AG2R-La Mondiale but I had the feeling that I wasn't going to develop enough. I have always raced in France and, in my heart, some experience abroad has excited me for some time. I therefore decided to take the step and Patrick Lefévère's advances completely persuaded me.[8]

During the 2010 Tour de France, Chavanel took over the yellow jersey after attacking at the 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) mark on stage 2. Following a series of crashes affecting the General Classification contenders on the descent into Spa, the race was neutralized for every rider except Chavanel, who was the lone escapee at that time. He capitalized on that, opening up enough of a gap to win the stage and capture the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank).[9] The following stage was not so good for Chavanel as two punctures on the cobbled roads meant Fabian Cancellara re-took the yellow jersey, however on the Tour's first mountain stage from Tournus to Station des Rousses Chavanel bridged the gap to an early breakaway and rode away to take a famous win and inherit the yellow jersey for the second time.

In the 2011 Vuelta a España Chavanel held the red leader's jersey for four stages. On stage three, as part of a breakaway, he finished second behind Pablo Lastras which left him second in general classification, 20 seconds behind Lastras.[10] However, on the next stage Chavanel finished just 57 seconds behind the stage winner while Lastras lost over 18 minutes, thereby making Chavanel the overall leader of the Vuelta.[11] He held this jersey until stage 8 where it was taken by Joaquim Rodríguez.[12]

Chavanel competing in the 2012 Olympics time trial in London

In 2012, Chavanel won the Three Days of De Panne and won the French National Time Trial Championships for the fourth time.

In 2013, after strong appearances in the Tour de San Luis and the Volta ao Algarve, Chavanel won stage six of Paris–Nice,[13] taking the points classification at the race. Chavanel also won the overall classification at the Three Days of De Panne for the second year in a row, winning the final time trial stage.[14]

After five years with the team, Chavanel left the squad at the end of the 2013 season,[15] and joined IAM Cycling for the 2014 season.[16]

IAM (2014–2015)

After winning the National Time trial title, Chavanel went on to win the 2014 Tour du Poitou-Charentes thanks to a great performance in the stage 4 time trial.[17] A couple of days later, Chavanel topped a very successful week as he prevailed in the World Tour race GP Ouest-France by winning the sprint out of a small group ahead of Arthur Vichot.[18] In 2015 he also accomplished the impressive feat of starting and finishing each Grand Tour.

Direct Énergie (2016–2018)

In September 2015 Direct Énergie announced that Chavanel would join them for the 2016 season.[19] In 2018, Chavanel participated in the Tour de France for the 18th time to take the record outright from Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voigt for the most Tour de France participations and was given the most combative rider award for the second stage.[20][21] On 26 July 2018, Chavanel finished Stage 18 of the race to break the record for most number of stages completed – overtaking Joop Zoetemelk's 365. Three days later, he tied Zoetemelk's record of finishing the Tour de France 16 times and set the new record stages completed number at 369. On the last day of the race, 29 July, he announced he would retire after Tour de Vendée on 6 October 2018.[22] He extended his career to the following week's Chrono des Nations before retiring.[5]


Chavanel was known as Chava,[1] Mimosa or Mimo, after a French film character he imitated.[6] In the Dutch-speaking Belgian media, he was nicknamed 'La Machine' for his outstanding stamina and determination.[23][24]

Major results


7th Overall Circuit des Mines
1st Mountains classification, Tour de l'Avenir
3rd Overall Circuit Franco-Belge
1st Stage 1
6th Overall Tour de l'Ain
6th Grand Prix de Villers-Cotterêts
8th Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers
2nd Châteauroux Classic
3rd Overall Tour de l'Avenir
3rd Polynormande
4th Overall Tour de l'Ain
6th Overall Tour de Picardie
7th Overall Circuit Franco-Belge
9th Le Samyn
1st Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
1st Trophée des Grimpeurs
2nd Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
3rd Overall Tour of Belgium
3rd Châteauroux Classic
9th Overall Danmark Rundt
1st Tour du Haut Var
2nd Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
2nd Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan
3rd Overall Tour Méditerranéen
5th Overall Paris–Nice
5th Overall Critérium International
5th Overall Circuit de la Sarthe
1st Stage 3b (ITT)
5th Paris–Bourges
9th Overall Paris–Corrèze
9th Tro-Bro Léon
1st Overall Tour of Belgium
1st Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
1st Polynormande
Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Stages 3 & 4 (ITT)
5th Paris–Camembert
5th Trophée des Grimpeurs
6th Grand Prix de Fourmies
9th Overall Tour Méditerranéen
10th Overall Critérium International
1st Time trial, National Championships
1st Overall Circuit de la Sarthe
1st Stage 5
1st Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Duo Normand (with Thierry Marichal)
9th Overall Tour de Pologne
1st Time trial, National Championships
1st Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
7th Overall Paris–Corrèze
7th Paris–Bourges
8th Gran Premio di Lugano
3rd Trophée des Grimpeurs
4th Overall Critérium International
9th Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan
10th Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
1st Time trial, National Championships
1st Dwars door Vlaanderen
1st Brabantse Pijl
Tour de France
1st Stage 19
Combativity award Stages 2, 6 & 19
Winner Super Combativity award
1st Stage 5 Tour Méditerranéen
1st Stage 4 Volta a Catalunya
2nd Overall Volta ao Algarve
8th Overall Paris–Nice
1st Stage 6
10th Time trial, UCI World Championships
2nd Time trial, National Championships
2nd Overall Eneco Tour
1st Prologue
2nd Overall Volta ao Algarve
3rd Overall Paris–Nice
1st Points classification
1st Stage 3
4th Grote Prijs Jef Scherens
5th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
7th Paris–Roubaix
7th Dwars door Vlaanderen
9th Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne
Tour de France
1st Stages 2 & 7
Held after Stages 2 & 7
Held after Stage 2
Combativity award Stage 2 & Overall
2nd Time trial, National Championships
7th Overall Tour du Limousin
1st Road race, National Championships
2nd Tour of Flanders
4th Overall Three Days of De Panne
Vuelta a España
Held Red jersey after Stages 4–7
1st Team time trial, UCI World Championships
1st Time trial, National Championships
1st Overall Three Days of De Panne
1st Stage 3b (ITT)
2nd Overall Eneco Tour
2nd Dwars door Vlaanderen
2nd Chrono des Nations
8th Overall Paris–Nice
8th Overall Tour de San Luis
10th Tour of Flanders
1st Team time trial, UCI World Championships
National Championships
1st Time trial
2nd Road race
1st Overall Three Days of De Panne
1st Stage 3b (ITT)
3rd Chrono des Nations
4th Milan–San Remo
4th Brabantse Pijl
5th Overall Paris–Nice
1st Points classification
1st Stage 6
6th Overall Eneco Tour
1st Stage 5 (ITT)
6th E3 Harelbeke
7th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
8th Grand Prix de Wallonie
1st Time trial, National Championships
1st Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Stage 4 (ITT)
1st GP Ouest–France
1st Chrono des Nations
2nd Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
1st Stage 3
3rd Overall Tour of Belgium
5th Dwars door Vlaanderen
7th Overall Tour Méditerranéen
7th Overall Tour of Britain
National Championships
3rd Time trial
3rd Road race
9th Overall Vuelta a Andalucía
1st Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Stage 4 (ITT)
4th Overall Étoile de Bessèges
1st Stage 3
5th Overall Three Days of De Panne
4th Time trial, National Championships
4th Overall Three Days of De Panne
5th Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
1st Stage 4
5th Overall Étoile de Bessèges
9th Tour of Flanders
9th Tro-Bro Léon
10th Chrono des Nations
Combativity award Stage 16 Tour de France
2nd Overall Tour Poitou-Charentes en Nouvelle-Aquitaine
4th Overall Étoile de Bessèges
4th Overall Tour La Provence
5th Cholet-Pays de Loire
5th Chrono des Nations
6th La Roue Tourangelle
6th Paris–Chauny
Combativity award Stage 2 Tour de France

Grand Tour general classification results timeline

Grand Tour 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
A pink jersey Giro d'Italia 36
A yellow jersey Tour de France 65 36 37 30 58 45 DNF 61 19 31 61 DNF 31 34 54 43 25 39
A red jersey Vuelta a España 16 DNF 27 47

Classics results timeline

Monument 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Milan–San Remo 52 71 59 37 21 20 4 21 23
Tour of Flanders 29 31 24 2 10 13 19 45 33 9
Paris–Roubaix DNF 52 DNF 7 38 27 19 94 DNF 19 80
Liège–Bastogne–Liège DNF DNF 89 48 46 57 DNF 69 DNF
Giro di Lombardia 84 DNF DNF DNF DNF
Classic 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 36 17 20 25 21 7 26 28 34 53
Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne 9 22 91 125 NH 60
E3 Harelbeke 5 28 33 6 29 20 61 29
Gent–Wevelgem 71 22 47 20 72
Dwars door Vlaanderen 1 7 66 27 2 5 85 72
Brabantse Pijl 1 24 4 23
Amstel Gold Race 119 60 60 109 57 24 16 16 37 DNF 79
Clásica de San Sebastián 106 91 70 14 32 17 DNF 11
GP Ouest–France 58 12 59 33 91 48 1 34
Paris–Tours 85 84 87 36 51 35 83 12 31 45
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish
NH Not held


1st Individual pursuit, National Championships
1st Team pursuit, UEC European Championships
1st Individual pursuit, National Championships
UCI World Cup, Glasgow
1st Individual pursuit
2nd Team pursuit
National Championships
1st Madison (with Thomas Boudat)
2nd Individual pursuit
National Championships
2nd Individual pursuit
2nd Madison (with Thomas Boudat)
3rd Team pursuit


  1. ^ a b "Sylvain Chavanel". Omega Pharma–Quick-Step. Decolef. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Sylvain Chavanel profile". Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  3. ^ Bonamy, Raphaël (1 September 2017). "Direct Énergie: le point sur l'effectif 2018" [Direct Énergie: Roster Update 2018]. Ouest-France (in French). Groupe Ouest-France. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Procycling, UK, November 2008
  5. ^ a b c Bacon, Ellis (16 October 2018). "Sylvain Chavanel: Looking back on 19 years as a pro – Gallery". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Procycling, UK, February 2003
  7. ^ Tour de France Official Guide, 2002
  8. ^ a b Chavanel part chez Quick Step, L'Équipe, France, 27 July 2008
  9. ^ "Sylvain Chavanel wins stage to take Tour de France lead". BBC Sport. 5 July 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  10. ^ "2011 Vuelta a España results, stage 3". Velonews. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 30 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Joaquim Rodriguez takes stage 8, lead in 2011 Vuelta a España". Velonews. 27 August 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  13. ^ Symcox, Jonathan (9 March 2013). "Chavanel wins sprint into Nice". Yahoo! Eurosport. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  14. ^ Wynn, Nigel (28 March 2013). "Sylvain Chavanel wins Three Days of De Panne". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Omega Pharma–Quick-Step Cycling Team (OPQ) – BEL". UCI World Tour. Union Cycliste Internationale. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Chavanel, Frank among transfers to IAM Cycling". VeloNews. Competitor Group, Inc. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Chavanel wins Tour du Poitou-Charentes". 29 August 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Chavanel wins GP Ouest France-Plouay". 31 August 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Bernaudeau announces Direct Energie as new sponsor". 16 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Tour de France: Chavanel earns Zwift Rider of the Day". 8 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Tour de France: Peter Sagan wins crash-marred stage 2 and takes yellow jersey". 8 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Sylvain Chavanel annonce sa retraite". L'Équipe (in French). 29 July 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Chavanel pakt eindzege Driedaagse na winst in tijdrit". Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  24. ^ Coorevits, Hugo. "Chavanel: 'Ik ken mijn plaats: ónder Tom Boonen' – Sportwereld". Retrieved 23 October 2012.
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Sylvain Chavanel
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