Orica-GreenEdge, just 18 months after it began, reached the highest of highs with a Tour de France stage win. Simon Gerrans succeeded in topping super-hot Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in the third and final Corsican stage in Calvi.
“It’s fantastic victory for the team,” the Australian said in a post race conference. “We had a fantastic first season last year, but we really missed a stage of the Tour de France. So this year it was a big objective for the team to win a stage and I’m really happy to have done that on stage three.”
Gerrans helped the team win its first stage race, the Tour Down Under, and first monument, Milan-San Remo last year. Today, after 145.5 kilometres racing from Ajaccio, he gave them its first Tour win.
As he said, it is something that escaped the Aussie team last year. It came to the race with Matt Goss, but was unable to capitalise against the likes of Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan, who each won three stages.
This year has started quite differently, with those stars failing to shine for various reasons.
“Big difference between this Tour de France and last year, last year I came in hoping to improve,” Gerrans added. “I had some pretty big objectives off the back of the Tour with the Olympics, some big races in the second part of the season; whereas this year I really targeted the first part of the Tour de France. I came here with the aim to be in top condition for the first few stages because I knew that stages like yesterday and today suited me quite well.”
Orica played its cards well, putting Simon Clarke in the escape and holding back for the final fireworks. Once Clarke returned, at 14 kilometres out, it focused on Gerrans.
“In the last kilometres, I really put all my faith in Daryl Impey. He is one of the best lead-out men going around. We had a little roll reversal from the first couple of stages where I was looking after Daryl, and the plan today was that he was to look after me.”
Team DS, Matt White said that the decide to work for Gerrans, not Matt Goss today as he thought he would lose ground with Cavendish (Omega Pharma) and André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), which he did.
Goss last year gave the team its first Grand Tour win, winning the hectic final of Giro d’Italia stage three.
The win closes a rocky chapter for Orica, whose bus driver became stuck under the finish arch in stage one, two days ago. The scene made as many headlines as the win by Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano).
“You can really do nothing but laugh at the situation. It was such a bizarre scenario for that to happen,” Gerrans added.
“The bus driver did a fantastic job. We are all really proud of how he conducted himself in the team; for sure, he was really embarrassed so we really felt quite sorry for him.”
Gerrans’ win easily helps the team forget about the incident and move on. As White laughed, they now have plenty in prize win money to cover the 2000 Swiss Franc fine.