Three days after they were the laughing stock of the Tour de France, when their team bus became wedged under the finishing line gantry, Orica GreenEdge capped a marvellous turnaround when they won their second stage in as many days and claimed the race leader’s yellow jersey yesterday.
The Australian team were fastest in the 25-kilometre team time-trial around Nice and that was enough to put former Team Sky rider Simon Gerrans into the overall lead.
Their time of 25 minutes 56 seconds was just one second faster than Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad and three seconds better than Team Sky, who will both wonder if they might have won were it not for some key injuries resulting from that opening day carnage.
For Omega Pharma-Quick Step, the world team time trial champions, individual world time trial champion Tony Martin put in a fine ride considering the catalogue of injuries he suffered in Bastia.
Even so, Orica were the ones celebrating as they doubled up 24 hours after winning their first ever Tour de France stage, through Gerrans.
And there was nothing lucky about their win as they recorded an average speed of 57.8 kilometres per hour, the fastest ever team time trial in any of cycling’s Grand Tours.
"We’re thrilled to have won the stage," Gerrans said. "It’s a fantastic feeling to win with the whole team. To take the yellow jersey as well is a massive bonus."
Meanwhile, Irish riders Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Dan Martin (Garmin-SHARP) both moved up the overall General Classification with Roche now in ninth overall after his team clocked the fourth fastest time while Martin’s team were sixth fastest and he is now 19th overall.
The duo are nine and 17 seconds down on new race leader Gerrans.
Roche will rue not winning the stage because had he done so, he’d have become the first Irishman since his father (over two decades ago) to wear the yellow jersey.
However this team fell eight seconds shy, instead contenting themselves with keeping Chris Froome’s main rival, Alberto Contador, in touch.
Similarly, Martin’s team will regret their performance as, had they won the stage, they’d have had team member David Millar in the yellow jersey but from Martin’s point of view, it was perhaps a blessing in disguise as he’d have been then expected to support Millar to protect the race lead, thus using valuable energy.
Today’s fifth stage takes the riders 228 kilometres from Cagnes-sur-mer to Marseille and though there are four climbs punctuating the journey, they are not hard climbs and should see the sprinters contest it at the finish.
Meanwhile, first year junior, Mark Downey (NRPT-Standard Life) won the opening time trial stage of the Junior Tour of Ireland in Co Clare last night.
He beat Dylan Foley and Eddie Dunbar – both riding with the Irish team.