Navardauskas Takes Stage 19 of Tour de France
Team Garmin-Sharp-POC has salvaged its Tour de France. The American squad, which saw its GC hopes dashed when Andrew Talansky abandoned, is seeking a new sponsor and needed a stage win. It got the latter today, in the rain, and Ramunas Navardauskas did the honors. Navardauskas became the first Lithuanian to win a Tour de France stage when he surged away from the field with 13 km left to take Stage 18, a rolling, 208.5-km run from Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour to Bergerac, in 4:43:41. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) outsprinted Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) for second at 0:07. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maillot jaune.
Just after the start, Cyril Gautier (Europcar) sallied off of the front, and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp-POC) followed him. Later, Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) joined the quartet to make it a quintet.
The peloton kept the escape on a short leash, with the break’s advantage never going beyond three and a half minutes. Giant-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol, Katusha, and Cannondale kept the fugitives close.
With 30 km left, the break led the bunch by one minute. Slagter attacked his companions. Ten km later, the peloton reeled in Elmiger, Gerard, Gautier, and Taaramae. Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) tried unsuccessfully to bridge up to Slagter.
On the day’s only categorized climb, the Category 4 Cote de Montbazillac, Slagter was 0:20 ahead of the Garmin-Sharp-POC-led peloton. Navardauskas made his move. The Lithuanian time trial champion bridged up to Slagter and then dropped him on the descent. With five km to go, the Garmin-Sharp-POC man led the field by 0:23. Two km later, he led by 0:20.
Navardauskas was catchable, but he got a break. A crash occurred in the Omega Pharma-Quick Step-led peloton. Cannondale, which was shepherding Peter Sagan, became leaderless when he went down. Other riders, such as Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), hit the deck, and the peloton split. The mishap occurred with three km remaining, so it did not affect the standings.
Navardauskas had time to celebrate as he approached the finish line. Behind, approximately 40 riders who were ahead of the crash sprinted to the finish, with Degenkolb beating Kristoff.
Navardauskas attributed his victory to teamwork. “This win is about teamwork,” he said. “We rode shoulder to shoulder all day today. I had such great support from everyone today, it was amazing. Summie [Johan Van Summeren] was telling me exactly what attacks to follow, Ben [King] was also always around helping me, and Alex [Howes] did an amazing descent to help me as well. Seba [Sebastian Langeveld] was encouraging me with “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Up the climb and Jack [Bauer] covered every move he needed to. Obviously, it was great to have Tom in the break all day as well. I’m not sure how Tom found the strength, but it was amazing. It really was all about teamwork. Everybody had something to do with it, so it was a team win. I keep saying it but we rode shoulder to shoulder all day. We were all really motivated, and I am so proud to be able to win for my teammates. Thanks with all of my heart to all of my teammates, my directors, and our race staff for everything!"
In the overall, Nibali leads Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) by 7:10 and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) by 7:23. Stage 20, a hilly, 54-km time trial, will be a final sorting out of the general classification. Fifteen seconds separate Pinot in second place, Peraud in third, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in fourth. Further down in the standings, 22 seconds separate eighth place Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) and ninth place Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura). Who will take the final two podium spots? Who will win the stage? Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Nibali? Peraud? Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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