‘GreenEDGE will be on a high’ we said of their chances in the TTT – and they exploited it in the best way possible.
There’s a lot of luck involved in professional cycling and it was Sky and QuickStep’s turn for that particular lady to desert them, this time around.
Tony Martin is a beast of a man and the Belgian team’s powerhouse – and no matter how tough the world champion is there’s no way he could have been at 100% in Nice after the mauling he took on Stage One.
The same applies to big strong boys Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard for Sky – both came down very hard on Saturday.
If truth be told, there’s no way Thomas should still be in the race, not with a fracture to his pelvis.
But the stakes are high and Froome can’t afford to lose a man like Thomas so early in the race.
The margins were less than a second for the laminated flooring boys and three seconds for Squadra Murdoch, respectively – but TTT’s are decided on margins like that, there’s so little to choose between the tops teams these days.
GrenEDGE have some strong and experienced boys in there – Impey is developing into one of the best lead out men around; Lancaster is already one of the top train drivers; Tuft is a beast of a man with excellent TT palmares including a Worlds medal; Goss is fast, a former team pursuit star; likewise Meyer whilst Clarke, Albasini and O’Grady are men who can punish themselves all day in the break.
Here’s what Matt White had to say:
“I thought we’d be around the mark, but the boys had an incredible ride. We really didn’t do much specific preparation for this stage. We did one day on the TT bikes in Corsica, but that was it. We had moved away from having a team just for the team time trial because we didn’t think our best team could beat Sky or Garmin on this particular course.
We brought a more diverse Tour team instead. They were very relaxed today, and they nailed it from the start. We were all very happily surprised with the win.”
Their press release continues;
“Time trial specialists Cameron Meyer and Svein Tuft led the Australian outfit down the start ramp. The Tour de France debutants each took long, steady pulls to get the team up to speed. Stopping the clock at 25’56, ORICA-GreenEDGE averaged 57.8kph to record the fastest time ever for a Tour team time trial.”
“The boys did a technically good ride today,” said White. “Everyone was on the mark. I’m especially proud of Svein and Stuey [Stuart O’Grady] who both took big, long turns on the front. We would have been happy with a top five today. It was really incredible to cross the line and hear we posted the fastest time.”
“We certainly weren’t the favourites, but we had a very strong team,” Gerrans added. “There were no weak links today. Everyone was given a specific role to play within the TTT. The stronger riders pulled harder and longer. The less strong guys kept the speed up on their turns. Everyone committed 100% and it paid off with the win.”
A great day for GreenEDGE and Simon Gerrans – one of the ‘nice guys’ – but not a disaster for Froome, Contador or Van Den Broucke with Saxo fourth @ nine seconds and Lotto fifth @ 17 seconds.
Not a good day for Garmin and David Millar, though – sixth @ 17 seconds.
The TTT is their ‘thing’ but it’s the second Grand Tour in a row where they’ve failed to deliver.
Millar said after that they’d gone out conservatively, trusting that a strong second half would do the business for them.
But, as with team pursuiting in the modern era, you can’t think in those terms any longer – not on a fast course, at least – it’s 100% from the gun and hang on.
The race was a disaster for Astana and their GC rider, Jakob Fuglsang who’s just come off fourth spot in the D