France?s Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) finally won a stage of the Tour de France on Friday after going on the attack for a total of 423km during this year?s race.

Chavanel is considered one of the most talented French riders in the peloton but had never managed to win a Tour stage but finally got one thanks to a carefully planned strategy and then beat Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) in the charge to the line.

Chavanel was in tears after his win and dedicates his tears and victory to his family who were at the finish. He has won stages at Paris-Nice, the Tour of the Mediterranean, Tour of Catalogne this year, plus the Fleche Brabanconne and À travers la Flandre semi-classics, and has finally silenced his critics who claimed he was over-hyped and over paid just because he was often the best Frenchman in the bunch.

EMOTIONAL MOMENT

It was the second stage win for Cofidis in this year?s Tour de France but the Quick Step team will enjoy the benefits next year after signing Chavanel for the next two seasons.

?It?s a very emotional moment for me. My family is here at the finish and so I really wanted to win,? he said.

?I?ve always wanted to win a stage at the Tour. This is the seventh win of my career but I?ve never got one at the Tour until now. I wasn?t sure I?d win, I?m not as a fast as my bother Sebastien, but I kept working hard during the break and didn?t make the same mistake Barredo made yesterday by attacking in the finale. I waited for the sprint and just hoped I had enough strength to win.?

Gerald Ciolek (Columbia) brought home the bunch, 1-13 behind Chavanel, beating Erik Zabel (Milram), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) but the sprinters knew they had missed out on winning the stage. They sprinter?s teams tried to chase Chavanel and Roy in the final part of the stage but far too little and left it far too late. Barloworld put all four of their riders left in the front and then Columbia, Liquigas and Quick Step did some work but the bunch sat up in the final kilometres when they realised the break would stay away.

Oscar Freire was only 11th at the finish but kept the green jersey. He has a total of 244 points and is 42 ahead of Erik Zabel. The German sneaked away to pick up two points during the stage but has little chance of snatching the sprinters jersey from Freire before the end of the Tour.

SATURDAY TIME TRIAL IS RACE OF TRUTH

Carlos Sastre (CSC) and his rivals for overall victory finished safely in the bunch as their thoughts turned more and more to Saturday?s decisive time trial.

The time gaps remained the same with Frank Schleck (CSC) second at 1-24, Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) third at 1-33 and Cadel Evans (Silence) fourth at 1-34. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is fifth at 2-39, with Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) sixth at 4-41.

In theory any of the top three can win the Tour de France – and any of the top six can finish on the final podium in Paris. The 53km time trial from Cerilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond really will be the race of truth and decide who wins the 2008 Tour de France.

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE 19 RESULTS

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis


2. Jeremy Roy (Fra) FDJeux at same time

3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Columbia at 1m 13secs

4. Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram

5. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner

6. Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis

7. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas

8. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole

9. Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner

10. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin-Chipotle all at same time

British

20. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle at 1m 13secs

134. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 3m 8secs

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 19

1. Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank


2. Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at 1m 24secs

3. Bernhard Kohl (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 1m 33secs

4. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 1m 34secs

5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2m 39secs

6. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle at 4m 41secs

7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 5m 35secs

8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5m 52secs

9. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r at 8m 10secs

10. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Ag2r at 8m 24secs

Tour de France 2008Stefan Schumacher was again in the early break, but was reeled in

Tour de France 2008Carlos Sastre: will he be wearing yellow after Saturday’s TT?

Tour de France 2008David Millar

Tour de France 2008Jeremy Roy and Sylvain Chavanel

Tour de France 2008Sylvain Chavanel and Jeremy Roy

Tour de France 2008Milram chase the break to try and set up Erik Zabel for a sprint finish

Tour de France 2008Carlos Sastre

All photos by Graham Watson



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 18: Burghardt shows that Columbia can win without Cav

Stage 17: Sastre wins on Alpe d’Huez, takes lead

Stage 16: Dessel wins

Stage 15: Schleck takes lead in the Alps

Stage 14: Oscar Freire wins in Digne-les-Bains

Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win

Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 11: Arvesen wins

Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second

Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees

Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse

Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage

Stage six: Ricco storms to win

Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win

Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead

Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break

Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint

Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Schlecks’ father’s car searched

Analysis: tactical battle on L’Alpe d’Huez [stage 17]

Schleck promises to attack main rivals

Schleck ready to defend Tour lead [stage 15]

Rest day news round-up [July 21]

Saunier Duval riders: “We are honest”

Cavendish talks to Cycling Weekly after quitting Tour

Schleck savours first ever Tour de France jersey [stage 15]

Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today

Cavendish pulls out of the Tour

Barloworld to end cycling sponsorship

Ricco speaks on Italian television

Cavendish joins the all-time greats

Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli

Tour bosses say fight against doping continues

Ricco denies doping at the Tour

Saunier Duval pull out of Tour

Tour’s top ten changes

Ricco positive for EPO at Tour

Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary

Cavendish battles through Pyrenees

Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]

Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour

Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]

Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]

Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders

David Millar: the dope controls are working

Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour

Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit

Doping back in Tour de France headlines

Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]

Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]

Millar to go for yellow [stage six]

Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]

Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win

Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]

Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]

Who is Romain Feillu?

Cavendish disappointed with stage two result

Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey

Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?

Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec

Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win

Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 18

Stage 17

Stage 15

Stage 14

Stage 13

Stage 12

Stage 11

Stage 11

Stage 10

Stage nine

Stage eight

Stage seven

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part five

Life at the Tour part four

Life at the Tour part three

Life at the Tour part two

Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>

News and features>>

All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>

Day by day summary>>

Route & stages>>

Teams and riders>>

About the Tour>>