The Frenchman started day five 24 seconds adrift of overall leader Lars Boom but powered his way through the 13.2 kilometre time trial around the Dutch town of Sitttard in 16 minutes 4 seconds, closing the gap on the Belkin rider to just four seconds.
Team Sky’s Sir Bradley Wiggins had set the pace early on in the day with a solid time of 16 minutes 13 seconds, but the 2012 Tour de France winner soon saw his time beaten with New Zealand’s Radioshack Leopard rider Jesse Sergent clocking a 16:08.
Argos Shimano’s Tom Dumoulin and Orica-GreenEdge’s Sebastian Langeveld later surpassed the Brit’s time as he slipped to fifth in the time trial.
Following day five’s action, Team Sky’s sporting director Servais Knaven expressed his disappointment, despite insisting that Wiggins had performed well.
“Of course we hoped for more but at the end of the day four guys were faster," said Knaven.
"Brad did a good time trial. The first part was quite technical but I think across the second half of the course he was the fastest of anyone.”
1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) - Omega Pharma-Quick Step 16min 4sec 2. Tom Dumoulin (Hol) - Argos-Shimano +4sec 3. Jesse Sergent (NZ) - RadioShack Leopard +4sec 4. Sebastian Langeveld (Hol) - Orica-GreenEdge +6sec 5. Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB) - Team Sky +9sec 6. Taylor Phinney (US) -BMC Racing +11sec 7. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) - Katusha +14sec 8. Lieuwe Westra (Hol) - Vacansoleil-DCM +17sec 9. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) - Astana +18sec 10. Lars Boom (Hol) - Belkin +20sec.