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. Here’s a look at how the stage unfolded through the lens of race photographer Graham Watson. See stage 19 results here.
Early in the day the sun – and the sunflowers – were out. But as the bunch drew closer to the finish in Bergerac, the pace ramped up and the weather went south. Photo by Graham Watson
The main breakaway of the day was a five-rider group that included Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne), and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), who’s one the front here, showing the pain of the day on his face. Photo by Graham Watson
Back in the bunch race leader Vincenzo Nibali was always surrounded by his Astana teammates. With just two stages to go – and a 7:10 lead – the Italian is set win the 2014 Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
Peter Sagan (green jersey) and Nibali storm the proverbial (and literal) castle during the early stages of Friday’s 208.5km stage from Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour to Bergerac in the south of France. Photo by Graham Watson
Trek Factory Racing’s Matt Busche battles the elements during stage 19. The Wisconsin native is one of several rides on the team aboard Trek’s new Emonda bike, which is claimed to be the world’s lightest production road bike. Photo by Graham Watson
BMC strongman Greg van Avermaet grinds his way through yet another rain-marred stage. This year’s Tour has been one of the wettest in recent memory. Photo by Graham Watson
After placing a rider in the early break, then launching several counter attacks, Ramunas Navardauskas took the final flyer, escaping the bunch around the 13km-to-go mark. Photo by Graham Watson
Behind Navardauskas, the pace whipped up with the GC men looking to stay safe and the sprinters trying to bring it back together for a mass gallop to the line. Photo by Graham Watson
But Navardauskas was not to be denied. The Lithuanian time trial champion put his race-against-the-clock skills to good use, snagging Garmin-Sharp its first stage win of this year’s Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
The victor enjoys the spoils of the day. Photo by Graham Watson