Sylvain Chavanel

Sylvain Chavanel

Chavanel in 2014
Personal information
Full name Sylvain Chavanel Albira
Nickname Chava,[1] Mimosa, La Machine
Born (1979-06-30) 30 June 1979
Châtellerault, France
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)[2]
Weight 70 kg (150 lb; 11 st)[2]
Team information
Current team Direct Énergie
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type All-rounder
Amateur team(s)
1999 Vendée U
Professional team(s)
2000–2004 Bonjour
2005–2008 Cofidis
2009–2013 Quick-Step
2014–2015 IAM Cycling
2016– Direct Énergie
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)
World Team Time Trial Championships (2012, 2013)
GP Ouest-France (2014)
Brabantse Pijl (2008)
Dwars door Vlaanderen (2008)
Infobox last updated on
7 July 2015
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Chavanel and the second or maternal family name is Albira.

Sylvain Chavanel Albira[3] (born 30 June 1979) is a French professional road bicycle racer. His brother Sébastien Chavanel is also a cyclist. Chavanel started his professional career in 2000 with Jean-René Bernaudeau's team Bonjour, which became Brioches La Boulangère in 2003. He is currently riding for UCI ProTeam Direct Énergie. He is left-handed.[4] Chavanel is a strong all-rounder who has won both sprints and time-trials, and is a good northern classics rider.


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.[3] It is the Spanish link that gives Chavanel the double name of Chavanel-Albeira, although he uses it only on official forms.[3] 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".[3]

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 Indurain 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.[5]

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.[5]

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.

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 km 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.[6]

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.

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 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.[7] 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.[7]
Chavanel competing in the 2012 Olympics time trial in London

During the 2010 Tour de France, Chavanel took over the yellow jersey after attacking at the 10 km 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).[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] He held this jersey until stage 8 where it was taken by Joaquim Rodríguez.[11]

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,[12] 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.[13]

After five years with the team, Chavanel left the squad at the end of the 2013 season,[14] and joined IAM Cycling for the 2014 season.[15]

IAM (2014–2015)

After winning the National Time trial title, Chavanel went on to win the Tour du Poitou-Charentes thanks to a great performance in Stage's 4 time trial.[16] 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.[17]

In September 2015 Direct Énergie announced that Chavanel would join them for the 2016 season.[18]


Chavanel is known as Chava,[1] Mimosa or Mimo, after a French film character he imitates.[5] In the Dutch-speaking Belgian media, he is often nicknamed 'La Machine' for his outstanding stamina and determination.[19][20]

Career achievements

Major results

6th Overall Tour de Picardie
1st Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
1st Trophée des Grimpeurs
2nd Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
3rd Overall Tour of Belgium
1st Overall Tour du Haut Var
1st Stage 4 Circuit de la Sarthe
2nd Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
2nd A travers le Morbihan
3rd Overall Tour Méditerranéen
1st Overall Tour of Belgium
1st Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Stages 3 & 4
1st Polynormande
1st National Time Trial Championships
1st Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Overall Circuit de la Sarthe
1st Stage 5
1st Duo Normand (with Thierry Marichal)
9th Overall Tour de Pologne
1st National Time Trial Championships
1st Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
7th Overall Paris–Corrèze
3rd Overall Trophée des Grimpeurs
4th Overall Critérium International
10th Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
16th Overall Vuelta a España
1st National Time Trial Championships
1st Stage 19 Tour de France
Combativity award
Winner Super Combativity award
1st Dwars door Vlaanderen
1st Brabantse Pijl
1st Stage 5 Tour Méditerranéen
1st Stage 4 Volta a Catalunya
2nd Overall Volta ao Algarve
8th Overall Paris–Nice
1st Stage 6
2nd Overall Tour of Benelux
1st Prologue
2nd Overall Volta ao Algarve
3rd Overall Paris–Nice
1st Points Classification
1st Stage 3
5th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
7th Dwars door Vlaanderen
8th Paris–Roubaix
9th Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne
Tour de France
1st Stages 2 & 7
Held Maillot Jaune on Stage 2 & 7
Held Maillot Vert on Stage 2
Combativity award Stage 2
Winner Super Combativity award
1st National Road Race Championships
2nd Tour of Flanders
4th Overall Three Days of De Panne
Held golden jersey Vuelta a España Red Jersey from stages 4–7
1st World Team Time Trial Championships
1st National Time Trial 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 World Team Time Trial Championships
1st National Time Trial Championships
1st Overall Three Days of De Panne
1st Stage 3b (ITT)
2nd National Road Race Championships
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 National Time Trial 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
1st National Individual Pursuit Championships
9th Overall Vuelta a Andalucía[21]
1st Individual pursuit, Glasgow, UCI Track World Cup[22]
1st European Team Pursuit Championships
1st National Individual Pursuit Championships
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

Grand Tour General Classification Results Timeline

Grand Tour 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Pink jersey Giro 36
Yellow jersey Tour 65 36 37 30 58 45 WD 61 19 31 61 WD 31 34 54 43
golden jersey Vuelta 16 WD 27 47


  1. 1 2 "Sylvain Chavanel". Omega Pharma–Quick-Step. Decolef. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Sylvain Chavanel profile".
  3. 1 2 3 4 Procycling, UK, November 2008
  4. "Chavanel signing". 28 March 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 Procycling, UK, February 2003
  6. Tour de France Official Guide, 2002
  7. 1 2 Chavanel part chez Quick Step, L'Équipe, France, 27 July 2008
  8. "Sylvain Chavanel wins stage to take Tour de France lead". BBC Sport. BBC © 2012. 5 July 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  9. "2011 Vuelta a España results, stage 3". 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  10. Archived 30 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. "Joaquim Rodriguez takes stage 8, lead in 2011 Vuelta a España". 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  12. Symcox, Jonathan (9 March 2013). "Chavanel wins sprint into Nice". Yahoo! Eurosport. TF1 Group. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  13. Wynn, Nigel (28 March 2013). "Sylvain Chavanel wins Three Days of De Panne". Cycling Weekly. IPC Media Limited. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  14. "Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team (OPQ) – BEL". UCI World Tour. Union Cycliste Internationale. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  15. "Chavanel, Frank among transfers to IAM Cycling". VeloNews. Competitor Group, Inc. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  16. "Chavanel wins Tour du Poitou-Charentes". Future plc. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  17. "Chavanel wins GP Ouest France-Plouay". Future plc. 31 August 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  18. "Bernaudeau announces Direct Energie as new sponsor". 16 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  19. "Chavanel pakt eindzege Driedaagse na winst in tijdrit". Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  20. Donderdag 29 maart 2012 Om 03u00 Door Hugo Coorevits. "Chavanel: 'Ik ken mijn plaats: ónder Tom Boonen' – Sportwereld". Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  21. "Vuelta a Andalucia: Lobato scorches to victory on final stage". 22 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  22. Frattini, Kirsten (6 November 2016). "UCI Track World Cup Glasgow - Day 4: Gold for Great Britain in men's team sprint, women's Omnium". Retrieved 6 November 2016.
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