25 July, 2014
Stage 19 : Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour - Bergerac, 208 km
Ramunas Navardauskas has become the first Lithuanian to win a stage at the Tour de France with a solo victory in Bergerac.
Navardauskas described his feeling about winning a first tour stage, "It was a big dream to win a Tour de France stage," Navardauskas explained. "It's everyone's dream. I am really thankful to my teammates. Jack Bauer and Sebastian Langeveld helped me on the climb, And TJ [Tom-Jelte Slagter] was just amazing."
Five riders in the lead
Cyril Gautier (Europcar) was the first attacker of the day. He was rejoined by Martin Elmiger (IAM) and Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne) at km 4, by Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin) at km 8 and by Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) at km 16. Cannondale took the command of the peloton to stabilize the deficit of the peloton around 3.30 after the first hour of racing. Stormy weather affected the riders after 45 kilometres into stage 19. Three other sprinters’ teams, Giant-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol and Katusha, united their efforts and the time gap went down to two minutes even before there were 100 kilometres remaining.
The time gap remained around two minutes for 60 more kilometres while the pouring rain didn’t discouraged Jean-Marc Marino, Ji Cheng and Lars Bak to pull the bunch, respectively for Cannondale, Giant-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol, until they gave way to their team-mates for the last hour of racing. Slagter attacked from the front group with 32km to go. The two time stage winner of Paris-Nice was very courageous to fight alone against the peloton. He passed first atop the côte de Monbazillac but was rejoined by his team-mate Ramunas Navardauskas who continued solo with 13km to go.
Navardauskas stays ahead and avoids crashing
Navardauskas was ahead with 20 seconds at 10km to go. He made the best of his time trialling skills to remain in the lead and therefore avoid the hiccups. Within 3km to go, a crash took Peter Sagan down and slowed the chasing peloton. The Lithuanian kept an advantage of seven seconds over John Degenkolb who outsprinted Alexander Kristoff. The tall rouleur from Klaipeda had won a stage at the Giro d’Italia last year. He also claimed the overall classification at the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire in April this year. Now he delivered Garmin-Sharp’s first win at the 2014 Tour de France. Just like Tinkoff-Saxo with Rafal Majka and Michael Rogers, the American outfit made it up for the bad luck that forced their leader Andrew Talansky out of the race too early.