Giro d’Italia: Ramunas Navardauskas takes a breakaway stage as the peloton takes the day off
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Ramunas Navardauskas takes a breakaway stage as the peloton takes the day off

by Ben Atkins at 11:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Lithuanian gives Garmin-Sharp a much-needed morale boost

ramunas navardauskas

Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) won the 11th stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, between Tarvisio and Vajont in solo style after escaping a group of 20 riders on the way to the final climb. The Lithuanian broke away with Daniel Oss (BMC Racing) with just over 25km to go, in pursuit of Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano) who had escaped the group earlier on. Gretsch was unable to stay with the two powerful riders, and Navardauskas left Oss behind on the final seven kilometre climb to the finish.

Oss managed to hold on to his second place, despite attacks being launched from the group behind him, and crossed the line 1’08” behind Navardauskas. Mountains jersey holder Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) escaped the rest to take third place after 2’59”.

"Everyone could see that there was a good chance of a breakaway forming today, that’s why it took so long for the breakaway to form," said Navardauskas afterwards. "The first part of the stage was on a descent and into a headwind, so it was difficult to open a gap. When we hit the long climb, the racing changed. The breakaway formed and everyone knew it would get away. The best guy in the General Classification was 10 minutes down, so the contenders could took it easy in view of the big stages that are approaching.

“He’s a good rider," the Lithuanian said of breakaway companion Oss. "He was in the breakaway, so he clearly had good legs. I didn’t know how strong he was going to be on the last climb. We worked together until the climb began. While he was leading, I tried to see how he was feeling. I accelerated a couple of times to see how he would respond, and I saw that I had better legs. I made one attack, then a harder one, and then I saw I was alone. Then I tried to pace myself. The gap was never huge and right until the end I hoped he wouldn't get a second wind.”

The 2012 Giro saw Navardauskas part of Garmin-Barracuda's victorious team time trial team, which gave him two days in the Maglia Rosa, but this was his first ever individual stage victory in a Grand Tour.

“Last year was really special and I really enjoyed it, but today I won for myself," he said. "A win is a win, and to get your name in the palmares of the GIro is an honour. But you can’t compare wearing the Maglia Rosa with a stage win. I’m very happy with my win today. It’s totally different.”

A very fast start to the 182km stage, on a predominantly downhill course, meant that the 20-man group was only able to escape after around 75km. With Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) the best-placed rider in the group - 13’46” behind Maglia Rosa Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in 27th place after the previous day’s tough Altopiano del Montasio stage - the peloton was quite happy to watch them go.

On the descent of the Forcella Ciampigotto with around 60km to go, Gretsch attacked and managed to get more than a minute and a half clear of the rest as he entered the final 25km. Navardauskas and Oss chased up to the tiring German shortly afterwards, however, and left him behind before they reached the foot of the final climb.

Navardauskas proved too strong for Oss on the climb and rode away from the Italian rider to take his first individual Grand Tour stage victory.

With no threat from the breakaway riders, and no aggression from his rivals in the peloton, Nibali was able to spend a relatively quiet day in the peloton and finished the race with his overall lead intact. Former Maglia Rosa Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) was able to break away from the peloton in the final kilometres, however, and steal a few seconds to lift himself up to ninth overall.

Finally 20 riders get away after a speedy downhill start

Following the super-tough finish on Altopiano del Montasio the previous day, the Giro peloton was to spend a second day in the mountains of the north east. With just two 2nd category climbs, however, the 11th stage was to be far less severe, despite the summit finish at Vajont, which was to commemorate the 1963 dam disaster that saw 2000 people killed as a landslide caused the lake to overflow into the valley below.

The race covered a total of 53.5km in the first hour as it followed a predominantly downhill course and nobody was able to escape. Finally, however, as the road gradually began to rise at the 75km point, the break of 20 riders managed to get away.

With Navardauskus, Oss, Pirazzi, Gretsch and Di Luca were Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Paul Martens (Blanco), Cayetano Sarmiento (Cannondale), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Juan Jose Cobo (Movistar), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Leopard), Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky), Evgeni Petrov (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Each team represented in the group had just one rider each, with Astana, Lampre-Merida and Lotto-Belisol were the only teams to have missed out. Di Luca was the best placed of the 20 riders, but was 13’46” behind Nibali in 27th place following the Altopiano del Montasio stage.

After 85km the group was four minutes clear, and its lead was to peak at five minutes after 98km, before the steady Astana tempo, combined with the gradually increasing gradient saw it begin to fall. After going down to 4’15” at 80km to go, however, it began to increase again as the climb to the 2nd category Forcella Ciampigotto began.

With 75km to go back up over five minutes as Nibali conserved his teammates’ energy. Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi) briefly attacked but was back in the peloton before he could make his way across to the breakaway. With 70km to go, with the large breakaway group climbing faster than the peloton, the gap went up to 5’45”.

With just a kilometre to climb - at the 65km to go point - Pirazzi attacked, with Sarmiento chasing across to him. Pauwels, Rodriguez, Cobo and Bonnafond jumped up to them; Pirazzi kicked again, but Rodriguez beat the Italian to the points over the top with 64.1km to go; as they hit the descent the other riders rejoined to restore the 20-man group.

Astana led the peloton across the line 5’28” back.

Gretsch attacks as the peloton sits up behind the break

Gretsch pushed ahead on the fast, non-technical descent, and was 45 seconds clear of the other 19 breakaway riders as he flew through the Traguardo Volante sprint, in Lozzo di Cadore, with 43.1km to go. Astana was still calmly leading the peloton in pursuit, and was still 5’33” behind as it crossed the line.

Gretsch’s lead kept on growing and was 1’20” with 40km to go, with the peloton now at 5’50”. At the second Traguardo Volante, at the top of the short climb to Pieve di Cadore with 33.8km to go, it was up to 1’33”, before the course began to descend again. The still-unhurried Astana team led the peloton over the line now six minutes in arrears.

Into the final 25km Di Luca tried to attack the 19-man chase group, but the rest were on him immediately. Apparently dissatisfied with the way Gretsch was still holding his lead over them, the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider went again and, as he was closed down Bonnafond countered.

Navardauskas and Oss jumped across to the French rider and rode by him; Bonnafond drifted back to the others as the two chasers began to eat into the gap to Gretsch.

With 20km to go the two chasers had cut the German’s lead to just 40 seconds as the 17 riders behind them began to attack and counterattack one another. With 17.5km left they flew by the Argos-Shimano rider and, after a short struggle, he managed to join them to form a group of three.

Under the 15km banner Navardauskas, Oss and Gretsch were 1’30” clear of the others, even though the German rider was unable to make any contribution, while the peloton was still making no progress on any of the breakaways, 6’13” back. With 11.5km to go, however, as the road began to gradually rise, Gretsch finally cracked and had to watch the others go.

Navardauskas wins the battle of the powerhouses on the final climb to the finish

As the two leaders rode under the ten kilometre banner Puccio attacked the chasers. The Italian was quickly pulled back, but Duque then jumped away himself and the Colombian was able to get clear. In the peloton behind, meanwhile, Astana was still leading the way, but Katusha, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia and Team Sky were all swarming forward.

Bonnafond attacked in pursuit of Duque, but Navardauskas and Oss were now on the foot of the climb, with just 6.4km left, and 2’25” ahead of the Colombian. Meanwhile, Blanco took control of the peloton as it approached the final ten kilometres, and finally began to raise the tempo.

Navardauskas was the stronger of the two riders at the head of the race and, after two attacks from the Lithuanian, he managed to leave Oss behind just before the five kilometre banner.

Bonnafond caught up with Duque as the pair of them approached the five kilometre banner, with both of them passing the exhausted Gretsch shortly afterwards. Pirazzi too had attacked the chasing group, and the mountains leader was flying up the climb.

Navardauskas was 35 seconds clear of Oss with three kilometres to go, but the BMC Racing rider had found his rhythm and was holding the gap. Astana meanwhile, was back on the front of the peloton, and was cruising unhurriedly up the climb almost six minuted behind the Garmin-Sharp rider.

The pace of the peloton allowed Francis De Greef (Lotto-Belisol) with Emanuel Sella (Androni Giocattoli- on his wheel

Under the flamme rouge Navardauskas was still a long way clear as the road gradually began to level out and, as it descended slightly with 200 metres to go the Lithuanian sat up to celebrate all the way to the line to take his victory. Oss was still clear in second place, and freewheeled over the line 1’07” later, with Pirazzi taking third place after 2’58”, with Puccio leading a group of the chasers not far behind him.

Intxausti had also attacked the peloton in the closing kilometres, 5’23”, stealing 18 seconds from the big names in the group behind him and jump up two places to ninth overall.

Result stage 11
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
2. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team @ 1’07”
3. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox @ 2’59”
4. Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky @ 3’07”
5. Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling
6. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
7. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 3'10"
9. Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 3'11"
10. Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela @ 3'25"

Standings after stage 11
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 41s
3. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 2’04”
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky @ 2’05”
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 2’12”
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 2’13”
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 2’55”
8. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida @ 3’35”
9. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 4’05”
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 4’17”


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