Garmin-Sharp’s Ramunas Navardauskas wins stage 19 of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
After losing its GC leader Andrew Talansky to multiple crashes and injury, then watching breakaway rider Jack Bauer get caught 10 meters from the finish line, Garmin-Sharp finally got some good news. Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas launched away from the bunch late in the rain soaked stage 19 run from Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour to Bergerac, then soloed to the line to snag his team’s first win of the 2014 Tour de France.
Navardauskas benefited from a crash in the field just inside the 3km mark that took out about a dozen riders, including green points jersey leader Peter Sagan. What was left of the peloton kept pushing, but couldn’t reel in the Lithuanian time trial champion, who finished the 208.5km stage in 4:43:41. German John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) led the dwindled bunch across the line 7 seconds later, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) snagging third.
Navardauskas was the final card in a well executed Garmin-Sharp plan. They stuck Tom Jelte Slagter in the early breakaway, then had the Dutchman break free the escape group around the 33km mark, while the bunch chased just 1:30 behind. The remainder of the early break was absorbed around the 20km mark, while Slagter continued his solo effort.
Garmin next launched Alex Howes on a short downhill proceeding the final climb, the cat. 4 Côte de Monbazillac, a 1.3km grind that averaged 7.6%. Howes didn’t get far, which left it to next man up: Navardauskas. He attacked on the climb and joined Slagter near the summit. Then with rain continuing to pour down on the battered bunch, Navardauskas went into time trial mode, driving hard all the way to the finish line.
There was no change in the chase for the final podium with Vincenzo Nibali finishing safely in the bunch, maintaining his mammoth 7:10 lead over Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr). Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2R-La Mondiale) remains third at 7:23, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) just 2 seconds behind Péraud.
Next up at the Tour de France is the stage 20’s 54km individual time trial. The one and only TT in this year’s race, the rolling route from Bergerac to Périgueux will decide the final order of second and third on the podium.
STAGE 19 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 19
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Astana Pro Team
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (SVK), Cannondale
Polka Dot Jersey: Rafal Majka (POL), Tinkoff-Saxo
White Jersey: Thibaut Pinot (FRA), FDJ.fr