Chavanel takes maiden Tour win
Frenchman chalks up win for Cofidis, while Sastre remains overall Tour leader.
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2008 23:25 GMT
Chavanel scored his first stage win on the Tour with a strong show of pace [AFP]

Sylvain Chavanel has won the 19th stage of the Tour de France between Roanne and Montlucon, during his last Tour with the Cofidis team.

The Frenchman took Friday’s 165.5km stage to register his maiden win on the Tour but Carlos Sastre, riding for the CSC team, remains the overall leader.

Chavanel, who will be riding for Belgian team Quick Step next season, won out against Jeremy Roy from the Francaise des Jeux team after the pair carved out a 2:30 lead over chasing riders.

The race was decided in the final 200 metres of the stage, when Chavenel’s acceleration proved too much for Roy.

"This just confirms my great start to the season," Chavanel, who showed his pace by winning two Flemish one-day classic races in the spring, said.

"I would never have believed it this morning because last night I had problems with my back. Now, I am the happiest man in the world."

Strong lead

The riders will next face a 53km time trial on Saturday, with Sastre enjoying a 1:34 lead over Cadel Evans, an Australian.

"Tomorrow is the most important day for me but the fact I am starting last from the field should help me," he said.

Sastre has held the yellow jersey since Wednesday, when he won the 17th stage to Alpe d'Huez.

"I will be paying close attention to Cancellara's times because he will be the big reference for everyone," he said, referring to his team mate Fabien Cancellera.

"For me, the pressure is on Evans. He is the one who has to try and win the yellow jersey tomorrow."

Leonardo Duque, Chavanel's team mate, was chased down by some of the teams in the peloton after 100km during Friday's stage.

Chavanel attacked shortly after Duque was reeled and he was allowed to go out on his own.

"I attacked and for a while I was racing at 65 kmh just to increase the gap," Chavanel, who in recent weeks has been caught several times by the peloton while close to the finish line, said.

"It is the first time I have managed to take one of my breakaways on this race all the way. It just shows, if you keep at it you can succeed."

Spaniard Oscar Freire, meanwhile, took an almost unassailable lead in the points competition, whose prize is the green jersey.

He now has 244 points, a lead of 42 points over Milram's veteran sprinter Erik Zabel on 202. Norwegian Thor Hushovd lies third on 198.

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