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"This was my first time this race, and my first time racing up the Mur. (...) You need to be really fresh if you want to have a chance of winning here. I'm really happy that we got two riders in the top ten," Navardauskas said.

Photo: RCS Sport












24.04.2014 @ 20:59 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Garmin-Sharp failed to make the top ten of the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, but bounced back with a bang at the Fleche Walonne with both their captains, Daniel Martin and Tom-Jelte Slagter, certainly living up to expectations and finishing second and fifth respectively.


Nothing else than strength and pure explosiveness count when it comes to the Fleche Wallonne finale on the brutally steep Mur de Huy, but well executed team tactics can spare a lot of leaders’ energy before they’ll reach the bottom of that climb for the ultimate time.


It was the case for the Garmin-Sharp, as they sent in-form Ramunas Navardauskas up the road to enjoy his debut in the second of the Ardennes classics as a part of a day’s breakaway, alongside Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) and always present Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise). The early move allowed his team-mates from to enjoy relatively easy day in the saddle, as they could take a back seat without being forced to contribute to a chase.


The escapees were eventually reeled in by the peloton on the penultimate climb and following a colossal effort, Navardauskas crossed the finish line 71st, over five minutes behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), but the 26-year old Lithuanian was pleased to successfully playing a team game and perfectly setting up his leaders Martin and Slagter for a difficult finale.


"We planned to have someone in the front. It would have been better to have more riders, perhaps even up to eight, but when you're off the front like that you know it's not going to come back until the end. So we set a steady pace and it meant that we didn't have much pressure in the peloton," Navardauskas told Cyclingnews at the finish.


"Amstel showed that you can have good days and bad days and sometimes you're just not able to take control of a race, and you find yourself a little bit behind what's going on," he said.


"This was my first time this race, and my first time racing up the Mur. It's so steep, it's so long and you need to be really fresh if you want to have a chance of winning here. I'm really happy that we got two riders in the top ten," he said, referring to Tom-Jelte Slagter's solid fifth place.


With their morale significantly boosted following a good showing at the Fleche Wallonne, Garmin-Sharp will enter the Liege-Bastogne-Liege with high spirits on Sunday as they look to defend Martin’s 2013 title.


"We will see at Liège. For me it depends on how I recover but last year we had winner and this time around we're going into the race positive and we'll see what we can do."



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