NICE, FRANCE // Orica Greenedge won the team time trial by less than one second Tuesday on the fourth stage of the Tour de France to put veteran Australian rider Simon Gerrans in the race leader's yellow jersey.
Considered an outsider to win the 25-kilometre dash along the streets of the southern seaport of Nice, Orica just beat early pacesetter Omega Pharma-Quickstep by .75 seconds with the top four teams finishing within 10 seconds of each other. Orica finished in a time of 25 minutes, 56 seconds.
"I couldn't have imagined this would happen. It's a dream for me, my team and a lot of people in Australia as well," said Gerrans, who was speaking in French. "My first coach was Phil Anderson, who was the first Australian to wear the yellow jersey. So to do that as well is something special."
Gerrans, 33, who won Monday's third stage in a sprint finish, takes over the overall lead from Belgian rider Jan Bakelants.
"I knew there were some special stages for me in the first week," Gerrans said. "It's a huge satisfaction to win the stage and take the yellow jersey. We'll try and hold it for a couple of days now."
The Orica riders formed a circle and then hugged and slapped each other on the back when they were sure of the win.
"We're a bunch of friends in the team, we've known each other for a long time," Gerrans said. "So this is a team win and this jersey is for the team as well."
Tour favourite Chris Froome's Team Sky finished third, three seconds off the pace, while rival Alberto Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff finished a further six seconds back.
Bakelants lost the leader's jersey because his RadioShack team finished way behind. He narrowly avoided a crash as he went close to hitting some railings.
Froome is three seconds behind Gerrans, who is not considered a Tour challenger, and two-time Tour champion Contador is six seconds behind Froome.
The peloton returned to mainland France after three stages in the searing heat and sinewy climbs of Corsica.
Under sunny blue skies, the teams set off at four-minute intervals and the overall team standings were reversed, meaning the first team to go was Argos-Shimano and the last team down the ramp was RadioShack.
The Argos-Shimano team, including Marcel Kittel – the German who won the Tour's hectic first stage on Saturday – set off first. But Omega did the early damage, setting a ferociously quick time despite the fact their best rider Tony Martin was carrying the raw scars of his fall on stage 1.
Garmin-Sharp, convincing winners of the team time trial when it was last held two years ago, were again among the favourites and set off with high hopes of placing veteran David Millar in the yellow jersey.
But they finished in sixth place, 17 seconds behind Orica, and Millar blamed himself.
"I wasn't in good form today but the team was very, very strong," the 36-year-old Scot said. "I think it was me who was missing the seconds."
There were some injured riders taking part, too, with Martin and Geraint Thomas saddling up despite nursing some nasty injuries after crashing on Stage 1.
Martin became unconscious in the team bus after his fall and was taken to hospital for injuries including bruising of the lung, while Thomas rode with a fractured pelvis.
"He is definitely better today than yesterday," Omega's team doctor Helge Riepenhof said of Martin.
Froome happy with Sky’s third-place showing
Tour de France favourite Chris Froome said he was satisfied with his Sky team’s performance in yesterday’s fourth-stage team time-trial, in which they finished third. “The main objective ... was to come through without having lost any time on the big contenders, but we’ve actually ... gained a bit of time. So that’s a fantastic thing,” said Froome.
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