Crashes hit peloton as Navardauskas takes stage 19 honours with daring late break
Published 25/07/2014 | 17:58
Ramunas Navardauskas was rewarded for a daring late escape with victory on stage 19 of the Tour de France in Bergerac.
Navardauskas held off a peloton splintered by crashes on a treacherous finale to the 208.5-kilometre route from Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to claim victory for Garmin-Sharp.
The torrential rain in the Dordogne region aided the Lithuanian's chances as Navardauskas achieved what his team-mate Jack Bauer could not last Sunday in finishing first ahead of the sprinters.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) led home a small bunch, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), the man who caught Bauer in Nimes, third.
Vincenzo Nibali, whose lead remained at seven minutes 10 seconds, will have to wait for his coronation, while the final battle to join him on the podium takes place in Saturday's penultimate day time-trial, the 54km from Bergerac to Perigueux.
Sunday's final day is traditionally a procession before a circuit race on the Champs-Elysees contested by the sprinters.
The three riders in second to fourth are separated by 15 seconds.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is second, with Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) third, 13 seconds behind his compatriot as the pair battle to be the first Frenchman on the Tour podium in 17 years.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is fourth overall, two seconds behind Peraud and 7:25 behind Nibali, the winner of four stages and a strong rider against the clock.
Should Nibali stay upright, he will become the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours, having won the 2010 Vuelta a Espana and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
The five others to achieve the feat are Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Alberto Contador.
Contador and defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) crashed out of this year's Tour, but there is no doubt who the outstanding rider has been in their absence.
Ireland's Nicolas Roche was over two minutes behind the stage winner in 51st and is 39th overall.