Orica-GreenEdge Takes TTT; Gerrans Takes Yellow Jersey
Orica-GreenEdge is the surprise winner of the 2013 Tour de France’s team time trial. The Australian squad, which furnished yesterday’s winner in the person of Simon Gerrans, powered over the flat, 25-km course in Nice in 25:56. World team time trial champion Omega Pharma-Quick Step finished second at 0:01, and Sky took third at 0:03. Gerrans is the new maillot jaune.
Argos-Shimano was the day’s first starter, and the Dutch squad rode the course in 27:44. Omega Pharma-Quick Step was the second starter, and the Belgian team obliterated Argos-Shimano’s time. Lotto-Belisol and Cannondale were the next finishers, and the two teams finished 0:16 and 0:33 off the pace, respectively. Cannondale dropped Ted King, who suffered a separated shoulder in a Stage 1 crash, almost immediately, and the American, who was riding a regular road bike instead of a time trial bike because of the pain, finished 0:07 past the time limit. (See editorial.)
Teams that were expected to ride well or that had GC contenders took their shots at Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s mark, but all fell short. Garmin-Sharp was 0:04 behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the checkpoint, but the American squad fell off of the pace and wound up 0:16 in arrears at the end of its ride. Sky got to within 0:03 of the lead, but could not win, although the British team pushed Chris Froome into the lead among the contenders. Saxo Bank-Tinkoff took Alberto Contador to within 0:06 of Froome with its 26:15. Movistar finished 0:18 behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which put Alejandro Valverde 0:17 behind Froome. BMC was the biggest loser, finishing 0:25 behind the Belgian team, leaving Cadel Evans 0:23 behind Froome.
Orica-GreenEdge ended the suspense with its ride. The Australian squad was 0:03 behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the checkpoint but poured on the coal to eke out a win. Behind, RadioShack-Leopard, which was riding for maillot jaune Jan Bakelants, finished 11 th at 0:29, causing Bakelants to surrender the yellow jersey.
Coming on the heels of Gerrans’s Stage 4 victory, today’s win, coupled with Gerrans donning the yellow jersey, is a milestone for the Australian squad. “It was a team effort yesterday,” the new maillot jaune said, “but I was the one to stand on the podium and receive the reward. It was that much more special to stand on the stage today with the entire team. All nine of us were on the podium together to celebrate our win. The yellow jersey is an added bonus.”
Directeur sportif Matthew White added, “The creation of this team was a major milestone. We poured a lot of work into the team for the last 10-15 years. To unite so many Australians on a team with Australian DNA was the first step. Our success last year was a box ticked. Winning in Corsica yesterday was another big moment. To win today and put an Australian in yellow is a real dream come true.”
In the overall, Gerrans leads teammates Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini. Stage 5 will not change this state of affairs. The flat, 176.5-km run from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier is tailor made for sprinters. Who will win the stage? Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)? Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out?