Tour de France Stage 19: OPQS Train Goes Full Gas in the Final, Two in Top 6 & Four Top 13
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step put all riders in the front trying to pull back an attacking Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) in the final kilometers, but came up just a few hundred meters short in the 208.5km Tour de France Stage 19 on Friday.
Navardauskas won the stage after bridging to teammate Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) and going over the top of him with 12.2km to go. Jan Bakelants of OPQS had tried his own attack to try and chase down Slagter alone with 20km to go, but it was brought back by the peloton.
Bakelants moved to the front several times in the final kilometers in hopes of pulling back Navardauskas, but the pouring rain and the technical aspects of the parcours made it difficult to get any momentum in the pursuit. Navardauskas had a 13" gap going in the final kilometer.
OPQS put all riders on the front in hopes of launching a sprint for Mark Renshaw, and instead contested the field sprint behind.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) finished 2nd, and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) 3rd. As a result of the hard work and control of the front, Renshaw finished 4th, Alessandro Petacchi 6th, Matteo Trentin 12th, and Bakelants 13th.
Michal Golas was involved in a crash with riders such as Romain Bardet (AG2R - La Mondiale) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) inside 3km to go, but it was without consequence.
OPQS looks next to the Stage 20 ITT, which is undulating, but for sure a stage for the likes of three-time UCI World TT Champion Tony Martin.
"Once Navardauskas took 20 seconds on the top of the climb it was hard to bring back," Renshaw said. "It was very dangerous out there in the rain. Brakes don't perform like they do when it's dry. Everybody is tired. But we have good equipment with our Specialized bikes and riders who can handle the conditions, so that's why we had good numbers in front in the final. Everyone committed well in the sprint. Degenkolb came underneath me in the last corner and put me out of position a little bit, so I had to start my sprint a little early. I'm disappointed to not win the sprint for 2nd but I think I've recovered well after the Pyrenees. I look forward to Paris now, what I consider the 'sprinters world championship'."