Tour de France 2013 stage 4: Gerrans in yellow

Orica-GreenEdge win team time trial

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

One day after Simon Gerrans won Orica-GreenEdge's first Tour de France stage, the Australian team once again found themselves atop the podium, this time after winning the 25km stage 4 team time trial in Nice.

Third best at the intermediate check point, three seconds down on reigning team time trial world champions Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Orica-GreenEdge would complete the course in 25:56, just 75 hundredths of a second ahead of the Belgian squad, who set the day's early benchmark and had to settle for second. Team Sky rounded out the top three for the day with a time of 25:59, three seconds down on Orica-GreenEdge.

The victory by Orica-GreenEdge put stage three winner Simon Gerrans into the yellow jersey as maillot jaune Jan Bakelants's squad RadioShack Leopard conceded 29 seconds on the day, dropping the Belgian to 32nd overall.

Gerrans took yellow after his team's effort

"It was a fantastic team effort," Gerrans said. "Everyone committed 100 percent today, as they did yesterday, and it's fantastic that today we get rewarded with a team win and the yellow jersey to top it off. I knew there weren't many weak links in our team - it's a very even team with a few strong guys and everyone stuck to their role.

"The big thing I achieved yesterday was to open the flood gates. The first win is always the hardest to get and I was sure they were going to come thick and fast after that but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would come already today.

"It's the pinnacle of the sport to get the yellow jersey, so few guys have had that honour. There's every opportunity to keep it for the next couple of days and we'll do our best."

Orica-GreenEdge won by 75 hundredths of a second over Omega Pharma-QuickStep

Orica-GreenEdge occupies the top three places on general classification, with Gerrans's teammates Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini in second and third respectively in the same time as Gerrans.

Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Michal Kwiatkowski and Sylvain Chavanel hold fourth and fifth respectively overall, both one second behind Gerrans.

Sky's third place finish puts overall Tour de France favourite Chris Froome in seventh overall at three seconds, the highest-placed of the general classification contenders. Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) is 12th overall at nine seconds, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) is 14th at 17 seconds while Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) is placed 16th overall, also at 17 seconds.

Movistar's GC trio of Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Rui Costa are all 20 seconds back while 2011 Tour champion Cadel Evans (BMC) is now 28th overall at 26 seconds.

Several overall favourites, however, are already nearly one minute or in excess of one minute off the pace. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) sits 56 seconds back, Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) trails by 1:04, while mountain classification leader Pierre Rolland (Europcar) is now 1:13 behind.

Team Sky finished third

How it happened

After three days on the island of Corsica the Tour moved onto mainland France for stage 4, a flat 25km team time trial taking place along the Cote d'Azur in Nice. Omega Pharma-QuickStep, the current team time trial world champions and also the squad of individual TT world champion Tony Martin, were the second team to start and their scintillating intermediate split time of 13:16 at the 13km mark would prove to be the fastest of the day. The Belgian team continued to fire on all cylinders through to the finish line to set the early best time of 25:57.

Fellow Belgian team Lotto Belisol was next on the road after Omega Pharma-QuickStep, and after trailing by eight seconds at the intermediate split they conceded nine more seconds to finish in 26:13, for the moment a second place provisional placing and ultimately good enough for fifth by the day's end.

The Cannondale team of points leader Peter Sagan was the fourth team to start and almost immediately into their effort Tour debutant Ted King, who crashed heavily on the opening stage finale and suffered a separated shoulder, was dropped by his teammates. Riding a road bike with aero clip-ons instead of a full time trial rig, King faced a heavy task ahead to finish within the 25 percent time cut on a day where the winning team averaged in excess of 55 km/hr.

Team Cannondale finished 13th

The Garmin-Sharp squad, eighth to start in Nice, rolled through the 13km intermediate split in 13:20, four seconds behind Omega Pharma-QuickStep to momentarily set the second-best split time. The US WorldTour team would finish mere fractions of a second in arrears of Lotto Belisol, for the moment the third best overall time but ultimately the sixth fastest.

Tenth to start, Team Sky came through the intermediate split five seconds down on Omega Pharma-QuickStep, but managed to pick up a couple of seconds on the second half of the course to stop the clock in 25:59, two seconds down on the Belgian team for a provisional second place result, ultimately good enough for third on the day. Despite having a cracked pelvis, Sky's Geraint Thomas was able to stay in the rotation through to the flamme rouge, where he dropped off the back, but managed to survive to fight another day.

Movistar, one of the team time trial favourites, were eight seconds down at the intermediate split and would finish in 26:15, a time good enough for seventh on the stage.

Despite losing Benjamin Noval prior to the intermediate split due to a crash, Saxo-Tinkoff, the fifteenth team out on the road, came closest to Omega Pharma-QuickStep at the intermediate split, stopping the clock less than a second in arrears. They would concede a few seconds in the latter portion of the route, but finished in a fine 26:05, for fourth on the day.

Tony Martin led Omega Pharma to second on the day

Orica-GreenEdge, the eighteenth team to start, clocked the third-best intermediate split of 13:19, three seconds back, but the Australian team managed to claw back their deficit to set a new best time of 25:56, edging Omega Pharma-QuickStep by less than one second.

Four teams still remained on course after Orica-GreenEdge - Lampre-Merida, Vacansoleil-DCM, BMC and RadioShack Leopard - but none would threaten the Australian team's effort on the day.

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