Team ready to defend Martin's title at Liège
When Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) finished second in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday he made a point of waiting for his teammates at the top of the Mur de Huy in order to thank them for their work.
While Ramunas Navardauskas wasn't there to support Martin on that final ascent, he certainly put in his fair share of effort having broken free in the early stages of the race with UnitedHealthcare's Jonathan Clarke and Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise).
It meant that Garmin, in need of result after a disappointing outing in the Amstel Gold Race, could take a back seat as other teams were forced to monitor and then chase the break.
"We planned to have someone in the front. It would have been better to have more riders, perhaps even up to eight, but when you're off the front like that you know it's not going to come back until the end. So we set a steady pace and it meant that we didn't have much pressure in the peloton," Navardauskas told Cyclingnews at the finish.
Wednesday marked the Lithuanian's first race outing in Flèche and although he had ridden reconnaissance over the Mur, nothing really prepared him for the atmosphere of the fans or the severity of the race.
"Amstel showed that you can have good days and bad days and sometimes you're just not able to take control of a race, and you find yourself a little bit behind what's going on," he said.
"This was my first time this race, and my first time racing up the Mur. It's so steep, it's so long and you need to be really fresh if you want to have a chance of winning here. I'm really happy that we got two riders in the top ten," he said, referring to Tom-Jelte Slagter's solid fifth place.
Navardauskas was eventually caught on the second to last climb of the cote d'Ereffe, but his efforts, along with those of his team, mean that Garmin and Martin can go into Liège-Bastogne-Liège with their tails up as they look to defend Martin's 2013 win.
"We will see at Liège. For me it depends on how I recover but last year we had winner and this time around we're going into the race positive and we'll see what we can do."
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