Tour de Romandie: Ramunas Navardauskas takes a rare sprint victory on stage two
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tour de Romandie: Ramunas Navardauskas takes a rare sprint victory on stage two

by Ben Atkins at 11:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Romandie
Lithuanian fastest to the line at the head of a split peloton

ramunas navardauskas Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) took his first road victory since the 2011 Lithuanian championships as he outsprinted the depleted peloton to take the second stage of the Tour de Romandie, between Prilly and Granges (Grenchen), in front of the almost-completed Velodrome de Suisse. The Lithuanian launched his sprint early, overtaking the lead out train of home team BMC Racing, and managed to hold his speed all the way to the finish line.

Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) managed to follow Navardauskas’ move, and tried to come around him at the finish, but the Italian was just unable to get his wheel in front as they hit the line. Stage one winner Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was right behind Gasparotto, but was also unable to come past and had to settle for third.

Despite the peloton splitting in the last 25km, race leader Chris Froome managed to finish the 190.3km stage in the front group, along with the rest of the overall contenders, and retained his yellow jersey at the top of an unchanged general classification.

The break of the day didn’t get established until kilometre 27, when Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling) managed to get away. The trio managed to gradually eke out a lead of 4’03” over the Team Sky-led peloton in the first half of the 190.3km, before being steadily pulled back again.

The trio was finally caught on the final climb to Plagne with just over 25km to go, when Pierre Rolland (Europcar) launched a solo attack. The French climber was only able to get just over 30 seconds clear though, before being closed down as the peloton accelerated under the impetus of numerous attacks.

The speed on the climb had split the peloton, as it had the day before, with many of the big name sprinters left behind again.

Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo-Tinkoff), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) formed a four-man breakaway group in the final kilometres, but they were shut down by the sprinters’ teams with a kilometre and a half to go.

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BMC Racing on the attack in its home stage

Finishing in the headquarters town there was clearly pressure on the BMC Racing team to be aggressive and, after a frenetic start to the stage, Burghardt attacked after 27km and was joined by Hoogerland and Brändle.

At the top of the unclassified climb to Rochefort after 69km, the trio was 3’25” clear and, despite dropping a little on the 2nd category climb to Chaumont, after 88.5km, Team Sky was quite happy to allow it to grow to a maximum of 4’03” after 116km.

At the first passage of the finish line in Granges/Grenchen, with 59km to go, the gap had fallen to 2’32” and, at the 50km banner it was down to exactly two minutes. At 40km to go it was down to 1’11” but, although it was to fall a little further, Team Sky eased up just a little and allowed it to grow again.

On the second passage of the finish line, with 31km to go, it was back up to 1’29” but, onto the foot of the 3rd category climb to Plagne Astana moved forward and began to lift the pace of the peloton. Up ahead, as the gradients began in ernest, Burghardt also accelerated, which saw first Hoogerland, then Brändle, dropped and the German continued alone.

As the peloton swept up Hoogerland and Brändle it was beginning to split at the rear, with many of the sprinters having trouble holding on. Rujano attacked out of the front, passing Burghardt, but Team Sky was just metres behind the Venezuelan as he passed under the 25km to go banner and he was soon caught.

As the peloton passed Rujano, Rolland jumped clear and managed to open a gap of 15 seconds, which had grown to 20 seconds as he passed the 20km to go banner. As Team Sky began to ease its pace the Frenchman’s lead continued to open so BMC Racing moved up to chase him down. It peaked at 33 seconds with 18km to go, when BMC Racing’s Matthias Frank leapt clear.

New breaks go but Team Sky and the sprinters hold it together

The Swiss rider had Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on his wheel, and Robert Kiserlowski (RadioShack-Leopard) jumped across to join them; Rujano also tried to get across but, as Frank drifted back, his BMC Racing teammate Steve Morabito attacked past him, along with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The attacks meant that Rolland’s lead was just a few seconds over the top of the climb, with 17.1km to go, and the group joined up with him on the descent.

The peloton was not far behind, however, and Team Sky quickly shut down the move as they began the descent to the finish.

Blanco riders Robert Gesink and Bram Tankink then took turns to attack, but Team Sky now had Movistar to help and allowed the Dutchmen just a few metres before shutting them down again.

Sørensen and Astarloza managed to get away just before the final intermediate sprint, in Pieterlen with 6.4km to go, and Wurf and Dyachenko jumped across to join them. They were 12 seconds clear with four kilometres to go, but the Blanco and Omega Pharma-Quick Step teams were now organised on the front and were shutting them down.

The break was over with 1.6km to go, when Astana took the lead into the final kilometre.

BMC Racing wanted to win at home, however, and took the peloton into the last few corners. An early sprint from Navardauskas swept past the red and blue team, however, and the Lithuanian managed to hold off the attentions of Gasparotto and Meersman all the way to the line.

Result stage 2
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
2. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Team Astana
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
5. Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team
6. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Team Astana
7. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard
8. Stef Clément (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycing
9. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Manuale Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida

Standings after stage 2
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 6s
3. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard @ 13s
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky @ 15s
5. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team @ 16s
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ @ 17s
7. Stef Clément (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 18s


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