NICE, France, (Reuters) – Orica-GreenEdge’s remarkable start to the Tour de France continued when Simon Gerrans snatched the yellow jersey after the Australian outfit won the team time trial yesterday.
The man the Australian had to particularly thank was not one of his team mates but the man who handed him his first bike – Phil Anderson, the first Australian to wear the famous jersey.
“He was my first coach, it’s thanks to him,” Gerrans told a news conference. “So it’s pretty special to follow in his footsteps.”
Gerrans started cycling after his neighbour Anderson, the first non-European to wear the yellow jersey in 1981, advised him to ride a bike to help him recover from a knee injury suffered in a motorbike crash.
Gerrans took the jersey 24 hours after he won an individual stage.
His Orica-GreenEdge team crossed the line in Nice with a time of 25 minutes 56 seconds after the 25 kms, making it the fastest stage in the Tour’s history although the previous record was set on a much longer course.
They finished one second ahead of Belgian world champions Omega Pharma-Quick-Step with Britain’s Team Sky a further two seconds behind in third after the fourth stage.
Gerrans is the sixth Australian to don the leader’s jersey after Anderson, Stuart O’Grady, Bradley McGee, Robbie McEwen and Cadel Evans.
“It has been a dream start for us,” Orica-GreenEdge sporting director Matt White said in a finish-line interview. “We knew we would be competitive but to win (the time trial), we are very surprised.”
Overall, Team Sky’s Chris Froome is the best placed of the top contenders in seventh, three seconds behind Gerrans and in the same time as his lieutenant, eighth-placed Richie Porte of Australia.
Spain’s Alberto Contador is 12th, six seconds further back, after his Team Saxo-Tinkoff limited the damage by finishing the stage fourth, nine seconds off Orica-GreenEdge’s pace.