Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Finally: Rasmunas Navardauskas Salvages Garmin-Sharps Tour

A late attack by Rasmunas Navardauskas salvaged Garmin-Sharp’s Tour as he won stage 19. Navardauskas attacked over the top of the Cote de Monbazillac (4). He never gained more that a 25” gap the whole of the 13km to the line. This is great redemption for the Garmin-Sharp team after their GC ambitions came to naught, but they lost their team leader Andrew Talansky due to injuries after stage 10.

            A big crash in the finale towards the front of the peloton took down many riders and split the peloton to pieces. The crash occurred just inside the 3km to go mark meaning everyone got the same time as the peloton, 7” behind Navardauskas. Notable fallers were Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), and 3rd overall Romain Bardet (AG2R). All riders got up and finished the stage.

Flat Ride

After three tough days in the Pyrenees the riders welcomed the flat 208.5km stage 19 from Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac. What was not welcomed was the awful weather. The rain fell on and off in the beginning of the race, before hammering the riders for the last 80km of the race.

            A breakaway of five riders including Martin Elmiger (IAM), Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Cyril Gautier (EuropCar), Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), established itself early into the race. The breakaway was given a short leash by the sprinters teams though, with there biggest advantage on the day just around 3’30”.

            As the riders coursed through the French countryside race radio was very busy announcing punctures to the follow team cars. The rain has washed a lot of grit onto the road causing the riders to puncture. In fact Movistar has gotten so many punctures this Tour that they have started asking other teams for wheels because they do not have enough to service there riders.

A Bid for Glory

            With 30km to the finish Slagter chose to go it alone and left his breakaway companions behind. The peloton was closing in, just over a minute behind the leaders. The finish of the stage was not status quo with the short category 4 kicker Cote de Monbazillac (1.3km, 7.6%) peaking out just 13km from the finish. Furthermore, there were two tight 90-degree corners in the last 500 meters. The finish favored a small group or solo rider as with the pounding rain the peloton would have to navigate the corners slower.

            10km after attacking, Slagter had stretched his advantage to 40” as Elmiger, Taaramae, Gautier, and Gerard were caught by the peloton. The peloton was speeding along in the rain led by the team of Peter Sagan, Cannondale. Jan Bakelants (OPQS) tried a move off the front of the peloton, but gained no more than 20 meters before Cannondale brought him back. On the descent to the climb with 15km to go Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) gapped the peloton and pursued his teammate Slagter who’s advantage had slipped under 30”.

            Tom Jelte Slagter hit the Cote de Monbazillac with a slim 12” advantage as the peloton had now absorbed Howes. When the peloton hit the climb attacks came right away. Riders were jumping off the front of the group, while riders were also being dropped. Marcel Kittle (Giant-Shimano) was unable to hold the pace on the climb and got dropped. That was okay with Giant-Shimano because plan B John Degenkolb was ready to go.

            In sight of the top of the climb Rasmunas Navardauskas
made his move and immediately closed to the gap to his teammate Slagter and left him in his wake. The peloton was clearly reduced coming over the top and the chase was disorganized as everyone tried to figure out who was still in the group. Greipel, Kristoff, and Sagan were there along with Giant-Shimano’s plan B Degenkolb.

Hitting the Deck

            Going under the 10km to go banner Navardauskas lead by 14”, but he was all in with his head down and mouth wide open. Finally, the peloton was getting somewhat organized with teams Cannondale, Omega Pharma, and Lotto-Belisol at the front of the peloton. Navardauskas is a very strong time trialist as he began to widen his gap to the peloton. At the 5km banner he led by 22” as Tinkoff-Saxo took over at the front of the peloton trying to set-up Daniele Bennati. The peloton flew around a slick corner just after the 3km banner and carnage ensued as many riders hit the deck and many were held up behind the crash. The crash occurred near the front of the peloton, as Sagan and Greipel were both seem sitting on the tarmac. Top ten GC riders Bardet and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) had also hit the deck, along with Frank Schleck (Trek).

            The crash clearly disrupted the chase of Navardauskas as Lotto-Belisol and Cannondale has nothing to ride for with both of their respective sprinters crashing. Omega Pharma took charge, but it was clearly too late. Going under the red kite signaling the final km of the stage Navardauskas held a 13” advantage. He navigated the two tight corners and entered the finishing straight hammering on the pedals. He posted up and saluted the crowd as stage winner as everyone in Garmin-Sharp’s camp let out a sigh of relief as there Tour had been salvaged. Degenkolb beat Kristoff to the line for second place 7” later as Mark Renshaw (OPQS) and Bennati rounded out the top 5.

            Riders slowly rolled across the line for minutes with some dropped and some involved or held up due to the crash. Everyone with peloton at the time of the crash received the same time as Degenkolb due to the 3km rule. Vincenzo Nibali was very relaxed after the stage as he pulled on a new yellow jersey and talked with the media. Nibali goes into the final time trial with a monster lead of over 7”. The podium though will be highly contested with places 2-4 separated by a mere 15”.

Stage 19 Results:

Stage Winner: Rasmunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp)
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
White Jersey: Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale)

Polka Dot Jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)

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