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"I was worried that the same thing would happen to me as it happened to Jack Bauer a few days ago. I knew I had 20 to 25 seconds lead for all those last ten kilometres or so but I didn't know what was happening behind me really."

Photo: Sirotti






25.07.2014 @ 19:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Less than a week ago, Jack Bauer was 25m from winning a stage of the Tour de France but today his teammate Ramunas Navarduaskas made amends for the disappointment when he won stage 19 of the race. Having been off on his own in the finale, the Lithuanian admits that he feared suffering the same ill fate as his teammate.


When Andrew Talansky left the race, Garmin-Sharp lost all its purpose in the Tour de France as the team had been fully built around the American and with no real winner candidates on the roster, it seemed almost impossible for them to win a stage. However, Ramunas Navardauskas defied expectations in today’s stage 19 when he took an impressive solo victory, repeating the feat he achieved in last year’s Giro d’Italia when Ryder Hesjedal had dropped out of GC contention.


Knowing that it was their final chance to win a stage, Garmin-Sharp went into the stage with a plan to attack and they were aggressive right from the beginning. Tom-Jelte Slagter was part of the early break and dropped his companions with 30km to go.


While the Dutchman did an impressive job to keep the peloton at pay, his teammates prepared themselves for the final climb that was located inside the final 15km and was the perfect launch pad for attacks. Alex Howes made the first move on the descent before Navardauskas made his move on the ascent.


The Lithuanian powered clear and quickly bridged the gap to Slagter. The Dutchman took one final turn for his teammate before dropping back and from there it was a time trial for Navardauskas.


"Every day we have a team meeting and [head DS] Charly Wegelius puts everything on paper," he said. "This was the last day we could try something and everything worked according to the plan.


"From the very beginning, we had this plan to attack at the last GPM [KOM] and to have someone in the breakaway. Tom-Jelte [Slagter] was very impressive. He rode at the front for 200 kilometres and it's amazing how he pulled for me in that last climb. He's been brave and strong while the whole team was working for this at the front of the peloton. Jack Bauer covered some moves, Sebastian [Langeveld] did it too. At the end, I used all my power to ride like a time trialist till the end.

"I was worried that the same thing would happen to me as it happened to Jack Bauer a few days ago. I knew I had 20 to 25 seconds lead for all those last ten kilometres or so but I didn't know what was happening behind me really. When five top sprinters go full gas shoulder to shoulder, it's amazing how fast they go and it's hard to stay ahead of them.


"So I just went as fast as I could, hoping I wouldn't end like Jack who was caught with 25 metres to go. I was afraid of turning back. I didn't want to lose and tell myself later that I could have done better. I gave all the energy I had left.

"I replaced David Millar at the last minute in the Tour team because he had a difficult time before the start. He was a little bit sick. The team decided to go with healthy riders only, even though a few of us got sick because of the bad weather during the Tour.


"But I got this really nice email from David. He said: ‘Someone had to fill the spot, I'm happy it's you.' And I managed to take this victory for him. We're still both happy to ride for this team. Had David been here, he would have been able to do something similar."



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