Ramūnas Navardauskas

Ramunas Navardauskas Giro Pink Jersey Podium

Ramūnas Navardauskas is not yet a familiar name in the sport but I suspect he’ll become a lot more recognisable now he’s taken the lead in the Giro. He’s 24 years old and rides for Garmin-Barracuda and if you haven’t spotted his name in the results so far, that’s because he’s been an invaluable helper for others on his team.

Here’s a look at his past and a guide to pronouncing his name.

To start, let’s get the pronunciation of Ramūnas Navardauskas right, just say each syllable out loud and you’ll get it. Ra-mun-as Nav-ar-dau-skas.

He’s from Lithuania, a northern European country on the icy Baltic sea which borders Russia, Belarus, Latvia and Poland. It was the first state to breakaway from the Soviet Union in 1990 and is today inside the European Union. Basketball seems to be the national sport but cycling is surprisingly popular despite the climate, indeed in 2009 multiple track cycling world champion Simona Krupeckaitė was voted the country’s top sportstar.

Junior pro

ramunas navardauskas
The tall guy on the left

As a first year senior rider in 2006 he joined the UCI’s development programme, based out of the HQ in Switzerland and impressed right away, winning the nearby GP de Lausanne as you can see above. This was enough to move to Belgium and ride with the Klaipeda-Splendid team in 2007, a modest outfit on the Continental circuit that recruited several Lithuanians, including Aidis Kruopis, now with Greenedge and Gediminas Bagdonas of An Post. His best result was winning the national championships ahead of Ignatas Konovalovas who has since won a TT stage in the Giro and today rides for Movistar.

A year later and Navardauskas moved to a Kazakh team with Kruopis and Bagdonas, joining up with riders who are today with Astana, like Valentin Iglinskiy and Alexandr Dyachenko. There were no major wins and he finished the season with 23rd place in the U-23 time trial at the world championships. 2009 should have been a better year with a move to an Italian team but Team Piemonte was stopped by the UCI after financial irregularities and Navardauskas went back to the amateur ranks.

But his time in the amateur ranks with French club VC La Pomme proved to be his most successful season. He was fourth in the amateur Ronde van Vlaanderen alongside many top names and then won Liège – Bastogne – Liège Espoirs and then took a stage win in the prestigious Ronde de l’Isard race in the Pyrenees.

This got him a pro contract with Garmin-Cervélo for 2010 where he won the Lithuanian national road championships and in his debut year. He was visible in the Tour de France and finished the race, impressive enough for a neo-pro.

The future?
Strong on the flat, useful in the mountains he’s been a workhorse so far but his outright power makes me think he’s got the force to win races assuming he can handle the mental aspects of leadership and more.

For now today’s success in the Giro is a great reward for all his hard work.

27 thoughts on “Ramūnas Navardauskas”

  1. Nice bit, thanks! First guy fron Lithuania to wear the maglia rosa according to what they said on TV this afternoon. I have to feel a bit sad for Taylor Phinney, especially after mowing the grass and amazingly NOT ending up down in the vineyard! We might swing over to Montecatini next week and see the race finish there since we’ll be very close during our Taste of Tuscany tour.

    • Yeah, Phinney picked up some nice chunks of grass which hung onto his rear derailleur…what a couple of days he’s had: after his ankle injury, he had to catch a late night flight to Verona, then visited 2 hospitals, got 3 stitches and to bed at 2:00am. Early morning on the [supposed] rest day, he was bombarded by the media (I would have stayed in bed).

      He lost too much sleep/recovery time which = one tired, sore puppy on TTT day. Considering that Phinney was actually a detriment to the TT team today, BMC did a good job waiting for him and held the team together, laying down a respectable time 31″ behind Garmin.

      So, we had a 21 y/o in the maglia rosa followed by a 24 y/o Lithuanian! The mountains are coming and the whole picture will change. My money’s on Hesjedal to climb into pink soon:)

      • @roadie61 – Am I the only one thinking why you not get your own blog! Every entrance or reply you make seems to stop further action.

        • arLOTTE — Concur. Perhaps that blog title should be: “WankerRoadieSez”? 🙂
          Okay folks, don’t get your pantyhose in a twist. This place is quite enjoyable until people take themselves way too seriously.

  2. Navardauskas has been talked about a lot in the American press since last year’s TdF. [BTW, he rode to 6th place in the Giro’s Prologue a few days ago, 22″ off Phinney’s time and 13″ off G. Thomas’ time, beating out a lot of top riders] Not bad at all.

    In the 2011 TdF, the amount of work he did alone to defend Hushovd’s jersey was incredible. He did a fantastic job as a domestique! He’s a big kid at 190cm, 77kg.

    I do believe, though, that he was struggling to stay on the back of Garmin’s slipstream today, is that right? I think it was him. Regardless, he powered to the end in good shape with the team as they took the TTT win, and he’s wearing Best Young Rider’s jersey.

    Of the favorites on GC, the field is quite interesting:

    – Ryder Hesjedal (Gar) + :11
    – J. Rodriguez (Kat) + :30
    – R. Kreuziger (Ast) + :40
    – I. Basso (Liq) + :47
    – [JA Flecha (SKY)] + :49 (can never count him out)
    – R. Uran (SKY) + :58
    – F. Schleck (RNT) + 1:09
    – M. Scarponi (Lampre) + 1:22

  3. I remember following Navardauskas a bit in 2009, when he was part of the Klaipeda outfit, even chatted to him, or tried to, at Olympia’s Tour when they had a stage near where I live, but he didn’t speak any English or German. That Klaipeda outfit was interesting. They didn’t have the money to support a complete CT-team, so they have always teamed up with other parties, wether it’s Belgian, Kazakh or Italian, and it did not always succesful enterprice and eventually folded.
    Ramunas was by far the most talented from that group, placed top10 at the Junior World Championship the year before. Glad he’d make it to the pro’s.

  4. Surely the big story of the day is that extraordinary, and unexpected, ride by Katusha. JRod gaining time in a TTT? Whatever next?

  5. Another great piece on a little known rider who is known in the peloton as a true hardman. Any guy that wins the Gp de Lausanne at all, let alone on his first attempt is obviously an extremely good rider. One of the hadrest races I ever did! Got top 15 once and it almost killed me……

  6. INRNG mentioned quite a few talented Lithuanian riders so I guess Navardauskas’ national title is palmares of its own. Katusha is a surprise of a day. Canyon launched a new TT machine so probably it was mentioned in “motivation talk”

    • Unfortunately, “The Honey Badger” is already the nickname of a sporting semi-star: Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback for the almost national champions LSU football team. I’ll forgive a Lithuanian for not knowing this, but DZ needs to pull his head out of the cycling sand.

      • A guy on a college team in a sport played in one country in the world? So, I assume that you have checked for earlier precedents among the nicknames of all the players in pelota, cricket, Australian Rules football, and International Tiddleywinks? More cycling fans have interest in these than in American college football.

  7. Btw, love Navardauskas. Remember scratching my head when he made the TdF Squad last year, but once I witnessed the huge pulls he did for Thor I realized what was up. Hopefully he’ll keep the pink for a few days. Would also be nice to have him hand it off to Farrar or Ryder. Go Argyle Armada!

  8. Garmin Is one interesting team. I love their emphasis on teamwork and TTT picking a niche for themselves. They always aim for best team classification in GTs knowing well that they don’t have the main GT contender. If you like Garmin see their classic season documentary last year when Husshovd was still with them. It’s almost like publishing their own failure which I think not many teams have the balls to do it. The documentary portrays team dynamic really as well as their quirky side. It’s almost like self reflection material.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Garmin are out of the box and make a lot of the other teams look so boring (eg. Lampre, FDJ, Liquigas). Yawn.

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