Navardauskas wins solo after late attack on a wet stage 19 of Le Tour
Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) has won stage 19 of the Tour de France after attacking on the day’s only climb less than 14km from the finish. The Lithuanian rider broke clear of the peloton on the 1.3km climb and joined his teammate Tom-Jelte Slagter up the road, the latter having been part of the day’s main breakaway before riding clear on his own.
Navardauskas eked out a small lead in the closing kilometres to Bergerac as the rain poured down, before a crash in the peloton with less than 3km to go brought down or hampered most of the field. Less than 20 riders were able to continue chasing Navardauskas and the Garmin-Sharp rider held them off to take his team’s first stage win of the race and the first ever Tour de France stage by a Lithuanian rider.
After three days in the high mountains of the Pyrenees, stage 19 of the 2014 Tour de France took the riders north on a genuine “transitional stage” between Maubourguet to Bergerac. Heavy rain lashed the route for virtually the entire day as the riders covered 209km of almost entirely flat roads.
Four riders got clear of the peloton in the opening 10km — Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Martin Elmiger (IAM) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche) — with Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) joining them a short time later. After 30km of racing the escapees had 2:30 on the peloton as Giant-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol and Cannondale came to the front to control proceedings ahead of a potential sprint finish.
The gap got out to as much as four minutes but the peloton wasn’t allowing the breakaway any more latitude than that. They upped the tempo slightly, bringing the deficit back to around 2:30 with 140km to go. The gap would remain at roughly this size for much of the next few hours.
With 137km to go the riders passed through the town of Condom, prompting a series of immature but entertaining tweets.
Astana giving their leader the requisite protection as a rather limp peloton fumbles through Condom. No splits #TDF
— Blazin' Saddles (@saddleblaze) July 25, 2014
#TDF peloton have ridden safely through Condom, all keeping rubber side down. Cannondale protecting their leader, keeping breakaway covered.
— Daniel Lloyd (@daniellloyd1) July 25, 2014
There was little excitement for the next few hours as the breakaway powered on through the rain at roughly 43km/h (with assistance from a tailwind), the peloton dangling between 2:00 and 2:30 behind. Ji Cheng (Giant-Shimano) and Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) were the riders doing most of the work on the front of the main field as the peloton kept the leaders on a tight leash.
Giant-Shimano’s two main hopes for the stage, John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel both flatted around the 85km-to-go mark, but both managed to get back on without any hassles. At the intermediate sprint in Tonneins it was Martin Elmiger who rolled through uncontested at the head of the breakaway, while Mark Renshaw took sixth place from the peloton with the faintest of attacks over Peter Sagan.
With 65km to go the peloton had the gap down to 1:30 but just as it looked like it might come down further, they eased off the gas and let it grow back out to around 2:30.
There was finally a little bit of excitement with 32km to go when Tom-Jelte Slagter rolled off the front of the breakaway and set off alone. Around this time there was a little more urgency starting to creep into the peloton, and with 26km to go the gap from Slagter to the peloton was inside a minute.
The first of the chasers, Arnaud Gerard, was caught with 24.3km to go, and about three kilometres later, Taaramae, Elmiger and Gautier were also swept up. This left just Tom-Jelte Slagter up the road, the Dutch Garmin-Sharp rider with an advantage of just 36 seconds.
Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) chanced his arm with an attack off the front with around 20km remaining, but he was soon caught by the Cannondale-led peloton.
On a wet and twisty descent with 16.8km to go Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) slipped off the front of the peloton to try and join his teammate up the road. He was caught a few kilometres later, just before the first and only climb of the day began.
When Slagter hit the 1.3km climb he was around 15 seconds ahead of a peloton that started disintegrating as soon as it reached the ascent. Marcel Kittel soon disappeared off the back, as did a number of the other sprinters.
Towards the top of the climb Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) broke clear of the peloton, heading up the road in search of his Dutch teammate. They joined forces just before the top of the climb, Slagter taking the one KOM point on offer, as the peloton bore down on them from behind.
With 12.8km to the finish Navardauskas left his teammate behind as the rain continued to pour down on slippery, narrow roads. Omega Pharma-QuickStep came to the front to try and close down the gap.
Navardauskas had 13 seconds over the peloton with 10km to race and 20 seconds with 7.4km to go. Cannondale took up the chase, with Garmin-Sharp’s Jack Bauer near the front to try and disrupt any concerted attempts to bring back his Lithuanian teammate.
With 5km to go there was little organisation in the peloton with the earlier climb having shortened most teams’ lead-out trains. And just inside the 3km-to-go marker, a crash after a right-hand corner brought down a big group of riders, including Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
The crash left only around 15-20 riders at the head of the peloton, putting Navardauskas in a perfect position. With 1.6km to go he had a 14-second advantage and with a couple of corners in the closing stages, the Lithuanian had the advantage.
Navardauskas went on to win the stage solo, seven seconds clear of a small group of riders led by John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). All other riders were given the same time with the crash finishing inside the final 3km of the race.
And so with just two stages remaining in the 2014 Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) still leads by 7:10 over Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and 7:23 over Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale). Peter Sagan will wear the green jersey all the way to Paris, while Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) will take out the KOM classification.
Thibaut Pinot should hold on to his lead in the best young rider classification to Paris as well, but with a long ITT tomorrow, changes are possible. The same is true in the general classification — Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) currently sits fourth overall but should move up into second or third overall after tomorrow’s stage.
The 54km ITT takes the riders from Bergerac to Periguex with some gentle climbing along the way. It’s a stage that reigning world ITT champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) should win, but few things are certain in professional bike racing.
Previous stage reports
– Stage 1: Marcel Kittel takes Tour opener as Cavendish and Gerrans crash
– Stage 2: Vincenzo Nibali wins in Sheffield and takes Tour lead overall
– Stage 3: Marcel Kittel doubles up in London, Nibali holds on to yellow
– Stage 4: Marcel Kittel claims his third stage as Vincenzo Nibali defends yellow
– Stage 5: Lars Boom wins on the cobbles of stage 5 as Chris Froome crashes out
– Stage 6: Andre Greipel sprints to victory on stage 6, Nibali holds steady in yellow
– Stage 7: Matteo Trentin wins in a photo finish, Nibali secures a sixth day in yellow
– Stage 8: Blel Kadri solos to stage 8 victory, Nibali holds lead after GC shakeup
– Stage 9: Tony Martin takes solo win as Tony Gallopin rides into yellow
– Stage 10: Nibali takes back yellow as Contador crashes out of the Tour de France
– Stage 11: Gallopin wins stage 11 of Le Tour after a perfectly timed late attack
– Stage 12: Kristoff sprints to his first Tour de France stage win into Saint-Etienne
– Stage 13: Nibali climbs to a third stage win and stamps his authority on Le Tour
– Stage 14: Rafal Majka claims to stage 14 win in his first Tour de France
– Stage 15: Kristoff wins again as Bauer and Elmiger fall agonisingly short
– Stage 16: Michael Rogers wins stage 16 after late attack off the Port de Bales
– Stage 17: Majka wins again as Tinkoff-Saxo go back-to-back at Le Tour
– Stage 18: Nibali takes a fourth stage victory as the Tour leaves the Pyrenees
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