Tour de France: Navarro’s rising stock sees Cofidis on the offensive
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Tour de France: Navarro’s rising stock sees Cofidis on the offensive

by Kyle Moore at 9:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Quiet French squad gets something to cheer about with Spaniard in top ten

Daniel NavarroNear the bottom in Tour de France earnings so far, French continental team Cofidis has had little to cheer about as the Tour draws to a close this weekend. But that is slowly but surely beginning to change with the ascension of first year Cofidis man Daniel Navarro.

The Spaniard is a former lieutenant to Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), but chose to head off on his own in search of greener pastures in the red kit of Cofidis. Navarro himself has been solid throughout the season, winning the Vuelta a Murcia, taking 12th in Paris-Nice, and fifth in the Critérium du Dauphiné. His Tour de France got off to a quiet start, but he had his loudest day on Friday’s stage 19, when he was active in the day’s big escape before finishing fifth in Le Grand Bornand.

Navarro swiped almost seven minutes from the favourites group, and the result was a move up from 13th to eighth in the general classification.

In a breakaway that began with more than 40 men, multiple teams were represented with several riders, including Cofidis. Their two top racers of the Tour, Navarro and Jérôme Coppel, survived as the escape shrunk in size. Eventually, Cofidis and Coppel spent ample time on the front of the group in an attempt to pull back the individual escape of Pierre Rolland (Europcar). It was one of the first times the French team rode aggressively, on the offensive instead of occupying space, and Navarro was the biggest beneficiary of the day.

“I’m happy today. This was my best day in the Tour de France,” Navarro told Radio France Internationale. “I knew it would be hard to beat [stage winner] Rui Costa. But I’m happy to get into the top ten. I will fight to keep this up even though tomorrow’s stage will not be a cakewalk.

“For me, the ultimate dream is to win a stage. But for the team to have a rider in the top ten is good.”

It had been a largely barren Tour for Cofidis until Navarro’s quiet rise and their statement in stage 19. In the team’s defense, crashes have been aplenty, resulting in the withdrawal of the promising Yohan Bagot as well as Christophe Le Mevel. And after showing flashes early in last year’s Tour, Rein Taaramäe has disappeared quickly from front groups.

Cofidis director Yvon Sanquer keeps a positive outlook, but is relieved to finally experience some success. “It’s just a reward for our work,” Sanquer said of Navarro’s new GC spot. “You have to turn the page after the crashes at the beginning of the Tour. You must be positive.

“Egoitz Garcia was fifth in Lyon. Luis Angel Mate was present in breakaways. They are hard workers, guys who give a lot to us.”

After stage 19, Sanquer gave a hug to the Estonian champion Taaramäe. “Rein is in a difficult situation. He is disappointed. He is aware that he is far from his best. He must find peace,” Sanquer added.

In eighth place, Navarro has a sizeable buffer over the riders behind him. Assuming he hangs on, one gets the sense that Cofidis will celebrate the accomplishment, as well as their persistence.

“There have been difficult times. Professional sport – it is not something that is easy. Our riders have a lot of energy left, but sometimes we have to be there for them,” Sanquer concluded.


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