Gerrans Notches Orica-GreenEdge's First Tour Stage Win
The riders labored under warm, blue skies. Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked at the gun, and Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Sebastien Minard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Simon Clarke (GreenEdge), and Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun) joined him. While, behind the quintet, Andrei Kashechkin (Astana) became the first rider to abandon this Tour de France (he had a stomach ailment), the escapees forged a lead that maxed out at 4:25 at 17 km. RadioShack-Leopard took over at the front on behalf of maillot jaune Bakelants, and the American squad pegged the escapees’ advantage.
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff paced the field for a time, but BMC, Sky, and Belkin joined the Danish team at the front. With 75 km left, the bunch trailed the break by 0:50. The fugitives picked up the pace, and with 65 km to go, they led the field by 1:10.
With 21.5 km remaining and about 0:40 separating the leaders from the bunch, Clarke attacked and Minard joined him. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked from the peloton and overtook the pair. At the summit of the Category 2 Col de Marsolino, the day’s last climb, the Frenchman led the stage.
With eight km left, Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Lars Nordhaug (Belkin), and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) caught Rolland. Three km later, the bunch was 0:10 behind the break. The peloton reeled in the escapees with three km left.
GreenEdge and Cannondale took over at the front. With 2.2 km left, Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) attacked, but the bunch caught him with 800 m to go. Gerrans lunged into the lead and held off a fast finishing Sagan by throwing his bike.
Gerrans’s win was his second Tour de France stage win, but it was the first Tour stage victory for his team, which is making its second appearance in the race. Gerrans was aware of the significance. “This is a huge win,” said Gerrans. “It’s a huge moment for the team. We have been so close on so many occasions. Hopefully, it’s the first of many more to come.
“Daryl [Impey] and I have been working together in the finals the last few days. Yesterday, I led him out. We thought the finish suited me better today, and we made the decision to have him lead me out because of that. He’s the best in the business. He did an absolutely perfect job.
“I had no idea if I had won. I knew it was really close, and I wasn’t going to celebrate too early. Sagan and I were on the opposite ends of the road, and we both threw our bikes. My win was confirmed a few minutes later. We’re all pretty ecstatic.”
In the overall, Bakelants leads Julien Simon (Sojasun) and Gerrans by 0:01. Stage 4 will change the standings. The Tour de France will cross the Mediterranean to mainland France for a flat, 25-km team time trial. The race should come down to a showdown between Team Sky, Garmin-Sharp, BMC, and Movistar. Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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