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“I thought it was a good time for a guy like me to try the sprint because some of the sprinters were dropped. We could see people were getting tired and some riders couldn’t pedal very hard anymore. That’s when I decided t...

Photo: Sirotti








20.07.2015 @ 13:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ramunas Navardauskas sprint to sixth place in Valence on the 15th stage of the Tour de France. In a stage that could have gone to the breakaway or the peloton, Cannondale-Garmin put three riders in the early move to ensure representation should the escape last to the line.


Andrew Talansky, Ryder Hesjedal and Dylan van Baarle were among a nearly 30-man breakaway that formed shortly after the peloton departed Mende.


“We made the call on the bus to go into the breakaway,” said sport director Andreas Klier. “They took this call seriously, and we are happy about that.”


“There were 27 people up the road. We had three in the beginning, two a bit later and then one in the end,” Klier added. “At a bit stepper part on the course, Ryder attacked from behind and only a few really high-class cyclists followed. It was a very strong group out on the road.”


Hesjedal’s attack saw a nine-man move establish that included green jersey-wearer Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – QuickStep). The peloton seemed invested in a sprint. Katusha and IAM, in particular, kept the pace high throughout the entire stage.


“The chase was a bit complicated,” said Klier. “It was very fast, and they kept the breakaway at a very short gap. The front was riding close to 100 percent the whole day and the chasers were riding close to 100 percent the whole day, too.”


“At the end of the day, the breakaway riders started to look at each,” Klier explained. “Trentin from QuickStep attacked, and Ryder chased across to him.”


Although Hesjedal and Trentin cooperated in their bid for the line, they were unable to hold off the fast-closing peloton. Twenty kilometres from the finish, it was game over for the two leaders.


“Even though it didn’t work today, we were really happy with the team,” said Klier. “The did a great job or they wouldn’t have been with three guys in the breakaway.”


“I say if you try it again and again and again, one day it will come,” Klier added. “One day you will have the lucky punch. We don’t give up. We tell the boys to try and then try again. It’s all we can do. There’s always another chance tomorrow.”


With Hesjedal back in the bunch, Navardauskas decided he would have a crack at the sprint. The fast-pace and lumpy roads had distanced some of the top sprinters like Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep), and Navardauskas hoped a more select sprint might suit him.


“I thought it was a good time for a guy like me to try the sprint because some of the sprinters were dropped,” explained Navardauskas. “We could see people were getting tired and some riders couldn’t pedal very hard anymore. That’s when I decided to try it.”


“It was fast coming into the sprint,” Navardauskas said. “I followed the Lotto train and then Sagan’s wheels. Kristijan [Koren] came up to me a couple times to put me in a better position. I wanted to stay in the top 20 the whole time to save my legs.”


“When it came time for the sprint, I was a little too far back,” Navardauskas added. “There were a couple turns, and I didn’t come out of them near the front. When I had to sprint, it was shoulder with the big guys. I did ok – but I also feel like I could have done better.”


Cannondale-Garmin will start Monday’s stage 16 without Sebastian Langeveld. The Dutchman was forced to withdraw from the Tour de France on Sunday with gastrological illness.


“It’s of course sad to lose Sebastian,” said Klier. “He’s always been an important leader to the team. He got sick overnight, and it started really heavily this morning. He wanted to try, so we prepared everything if the worse-case scenario would happen – and it did. It happened directly. When the race went a little bit faster, he was dropped. There was nothing he could do when he was feeling so sick.”



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