Tour de France 7: Chavanel wins and returns to yellow

All day break for punchy French rider

Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel took revenge on overnight race leader Fabian Cancellara Saturday by winning his second stage on the Tour de France to reclaim the yellow jersey.

None of the yellow jersey contenders lost time on what was the first day in the mountains and Quick Step all-rounder Chavanel now holds a 1min 25sec lead on Australian Cadel Evans.

Evans' fellow yellow jersey challenger Andy Schleck is fourth at 1:55, with reigning champion Alberto Contador sixth at 2:26 and seven-time champion Lance Armstrong 14th at 3:16.

Quick Step all-rounder Chavanel won the second stage of the race in Spa on Monday to take the race lead from Swiss Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara.

However that victory was tinged with controversy as Cancellara, fearing for his team leader Andy Schleck after a crash left the Luxembourger dangerously trailing, negotiated a pact of non-aggression in the peloton which finished the last 30km at a snail's pace.

The incident left Chavanel to race solo to victory, but provoked anger from some teams in the peloton and took the shine off a deserved win.

A happy Chavanel

Having handed over the yellow jersey to Cancellara after a disastrous stage three, Chavanel promised to try for the jersey again.

After racing away from a number of rivals on the descent towards the sixth and final climb of Saturday's 165.5km race from Tournus to here, Chavanel admitted the Spa incident had been his motivation.

"It's a nice revenge for me," said Chavanel. "When I won (on Monday) the peloton sat up.

"People were telling me this morning that I had a good chance of being in the yellow jersey again today, but I didn't really believe them."

Chavanel started the day 1:01 behind Cancellara and his teammate, Jerome Pineau, laid the foundations of his superb stage win when he broke away from the peloton with four other riders.

With Pineau wearing the best climber's polka dot jersey, it was the perfect foil for Quick Step -- with one rider up front, they did not have to help in the chase, allowing Chavanel to save his energy for later.

When the peloton finally reduced the frontrunners' maximum lead of eight minutes to just 3:33 at the foot of the Col de la Croix de la Sera 30 kilometres from the finish, the attacks began to come.

Early on the 15.7km climb Bbox's French champion Thomas Voeckler was joined by fellow Frenchman Cyril Gauthier and, later, Italian Damiano Cunego and Australian Matthew Lloyd.

The peloton's subsequent accelerations left some riders in trouble, including Cancellara. Expected to keep the yellow jersey on what was probably the easiest climbing day of the race, he went on to finish 14:12 adrift.

Jerome Pineau

At the front, Pineau was left with only German Danilo Hondo for company after accelerations by the Frenchman first left Samuel Dumoulin and Ruben Moreno struggling and then had German Christian Knees in trouble.

Chavanel then struck, the Frenchman attacking the chasing peloton on the Col de la Sera, the race's penultimate climb, and soon joined Cunego's chase group which crested the summit of the Croix de la Sera with a 50sec deficit to the front pair.

Pineau left Hondo in his wake early on the 15km climb to Les Rousses however the Frenchman, having claimed most of the climbing points on offer, slowed down when he realised teammate Chavanel was approaching.

Chavanel was soon left on his own and despite being chased by Spaniards Rafael Valls and Juan Manuel Garate he went on to finish with a 57sec advantage on the former.

"In the final my legs were on fire, but I just told myself to keep going," added Chavanel. "These kinds of small climbs suit me perfectly, and when I caught up with Jerome he encouraged me to keep going."

© AFP 2010

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

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