Tour de France: Ramunas Navardauskas wins stage 19 solo as Vincenzo Nibali retains lead
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 25/07/14 5:56pm
Lithuania’s Ramunas Navardauskas claimed an unexpected solo victory on stage 19 of the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali avoided a late crash to retain his overall lead.
Navardauskas surged clear of the peloton on a short and sharp climb just under 14km from the finish in Bergerac and thwarted the chasing sprint teams by hanging on to win by seven seconds.
The Garmin-Sharp rider’s cause was helped by a big accident just under 3km from the finish involving around 20 riders, including general classification contenders Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet, and Peter Sagan, who had been among the favourites to win the stage.
Because the crash happened inside the final 3km all riders were awarded the same time, meaning Nibali, who managed to steer clear of the incident, retains his 7min 10sec lead over Thibaut Pinot in the general classification, with Peraud remaining 13 seconds further back in third despite finishing a couple of minutes down.
Navardauskas, who made history by becoming the first Lithuanian to win a stage of the Tour, said: “It was my dream to win a stage in the Tour de France – everybody wants to do it – and I’m happy I could make it. I’m really thankful for my team-mates for this. It was the team’s plan, right from the beginning.”
Wet and wild
Stage 19 took the riders north out of the Pyrenees and although the 208.5km route was largely flat, a cluster of small climbs just before Bergerac promised to make life difficult for the pure sprinters.
Five riders broke away under heavy rain, but when their gap steadily started to fall as the sprint teams upped the pace in the peloton, Garmin-Sharp’s Tom-Jelte Slagter decided to attack his fellow escapees 32km out and moved into a lone lead.
His small advantage tumbled when he reached the only categorised climb of the day, the category-four Cote de Monbazillac, but then team-mate Navardauskas attacked out of the peloton with 13.8km remaining and Slagter suddenly became a key ally to the surging Lithuanian.
The pair quickly joined up and after being towed up the last of the climb by Slagter, Navardauskas struck out solo and opened up a lead of 24 seconds on the peloton.
He still had a 19-second gap by the time wet roads caused the pile-up in the bunch – ending Sagan’s hopes – and with the peloton’s chase now partially weakened, Navardauskas was hold on to beat John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) into second and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) into third.
Stage 19 result
1 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin Sharp, +4:43:41
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, +0:07
3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, same time
4 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
6 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
7 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +0:09
8 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, st
9 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team, st
10 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 85:29:26
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +7:10
3 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +7:23
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +7:25
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +9:27
6 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, +11:34
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +13:56
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +14:15
9 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura, +14:37
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +16:25