Ruta Del Sol – Stage 1 Sylvain Chavanel «I’m not looking for excuses»

19 February 2015

IAM Cycling

The sweetness and tranquility of life in Spain were an illusion on the first stage of the Ruta del Sol.


Divided into two half-stages, in the first section this morning Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal) won by taking the initiative ahead of what turned out to be a chaotic sprint, while Javier Moreno (Movistar) won the afternoon time trial for Stage 1b.  Overall, it was Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) who came out best, and already grabbed control of the race lead with a strong time trial performance.

The riders from IAM Cycling would have welcomed a slightly more tranquil first stage.  The Swiss team’s riders started at a frenetic pace on the Spanish roads for good reason.

Unfortunately, the first half-stage ended up being the scene of a mass crash involving some sixty riders three kilometers from the finish. 

Several IAM Cycling riders ended up on the asphalt.  “The race was really going very fast; I was at the front of the pack and then all of a sudden there was a huge crash,” Aleksejs Saramotins explained this morning after the stage. 

Luckily for Marcel Wyss, he managed to stay upright. “There were three waves of crashes and everyone fell.  I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and rode on through.  I don’t know how it happened,” Wyss said.

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But IAM Cycling was far from defeated.  The afternoon time trial was one of the principle objectives that Michel Thétaz’s team had set for themselves, and no more so than for Sylvain Chavanel.  Even if things did not go as he would have liked, Chavanel, the current time trial champion of France, will use this chrono as a good learning opportunity.

“This time trial was short and difficult.  I was not necessarily calm before the start because it was the first real effort of the season, and excessively intense and short.  It always takes me two or three races before I feel like I’ve found my rhythm again.

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I am not looking for excuses, but on the other hand, I am not exactly surprised since in the first races I am always a little sluggish.  I am disappointed with my performance because I am a competitor and a competitor must always be on top form, especially as I am a specialist in France at this sort of thing.”

On an encouraging note, Chavanel’s compatriot and teammate, Jérôme Coppel, took an extremely strong third place in the time trial, besting Contador by two seconds.