The wind blew rain and cold air over Belfast but that did not stop team Orica-GreenEdge from enjoying its prize this morning. Yesterday evening, it won the team time trial and put Canadian Svein Tuft in the Giro d’Italia race leader’s pink jersey. The Aussie team focuses specifically on the event and just like in the Tour de France last year, it saw its hard work pay off.
Tuft stepped out of Orica’s white bus in a black rain cape, but underneath, he wore the cherished pink jersey. The race organiser began awarding the top to its leaders 83 years ago in 1931. It selected pink to match the colour of the La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that started the race in 1909.
“I’d say our efforts have been worthwhile,” the team’s general manager, Shayne Bannan told Cycling Weekly. “When we started as a team, we knew that if we focused on this event we could be rewarded. We’ve now won the yellow and pink jerseys.”
After helping the Australian track team, Bannan turned to the road. He debuted his country’s first ever top-level pro team in 2012 with businessman Gerry Ryan’s help. The two decided specifically to sign “strong engines” and riders who could win team time trials.
“We knew that it is an event that if you put your mind to it, there’s not that much luck to it, sometimes just the weather,” Bannan said. “It’s something you can be successful at it. If you put in time and effort, you get the reward.”
Orica covered the 21.7-kilometre course in 24-42 minutes yesterday. Omega Pharma, which won the World Championship title in Florence last year, placed second at five seconds back.
The two teams often go back and forth in the time trials. Orica beat Omega Pharma by 0.75 seconds at the Tour de France and Omega Pharma turned it around to win the worlds by 0.81 seconds. To compete, the teams need capable cyclists, time and equipment.
“We worked together with our partners to challenge them to make sure the equipment is state of art,” said Bannan.
“We put time into recon, as well. For this team time trial, we did the simple things. We had a good look at the course, making sure the lines we rode were correct and that we avoided the road furniture and cat eyes. What you can control is keeping out of danger, to make sure you take the safest and most effective line.”
Tuft rode by to the start line on his pink carbon frame. The team prepared it in advance because it knew that the nine men had a chance to win and that one, Tuft, would be the one to lead over the finish line. Bannan looked over at 37-year-old Tuft and smiled.
“He really epitomises what the team is about: unselfish, worker and tries to get the best out of his team-mates,” Bannan said. “We wanted to give him a chance to shine. After a long career, he’s got it. He deserved it.”
Orica-GreenEdge's Svein Tuft takes race lead in Belfast as Dan Martin crashes out
Canadian Svein Tuft reflects on his leadership of the Giro d'Italia after stage one