As Orica-GreenEdge’s cyclists cruised to their van on an open football pitch after the finish line in Plumelec today, they reflected on a team time trial unlike any they had ridden in the Tour de France.
This well-drilled team always aim for the win in the team time trial, just as they did in Nice in the 2013 Tour, but this time they took it easy and at just 75 per cent of their full capacity.
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Orica has been decimated by crashes in the first week and therefore at a severe disadvantage in this team event. So instead of an all-out assault on the stage, they instead opted for an additional day’s respite ahead of tomorrow’s official rest.
“We had an easy day,” Simon Yates told Cycling Weekly. “The goal was to go 75 per cent and give ourselves a rest before the hard mountain days ahead – and from here on, they are all hard.”
Looking to the mountains ahead, Orica finished in 37-13 minutes, around five minutes behind the fastest finishers.
“I’ve never had to do that before, but in our case, it was something we had to do,” Svein Tuft said.
“Even riding at that pace is hard. You have the Yatesy brothers, who when they go up a hill, their easy is our hard.”
Tuft said that their goal was to keep steady power and pace over the 28-kilometre time trial from Vannes to Plumelec. At any pace, it was a first for Adam Yates in his first Tour.
“There was nothing we could do when teams like BMC and Sky start with nine guys,” Adam Yates said.
“The racing itself has been easy so far, but the stress and crowds make it harder. Sometimes there’s not even space to move up until you get on to a big wide-lane highway.”
The teams travel from Plumelec to Pau, 730 kilometres, by airplane this evening. From there, the 22-year-old Yates twins will have their chance to win a mountain stage.
“We had to take this chance to take it easy today,” Simon Yates said. “We are looking at the stages to come. We are not riding for GC, so hopefully the GC teams will let us go. If I don’t make a break, I’ll also try for a stage win from the peloton in the final.
“I’ve barely touched the front for the first two weeks. The GC guys will have some tight legs, so if I arrive fresher than some of the top guys, maybe I can mix it. I’ve already shown this year that I can go toe to toe with some of those guys. If I’m on a good day then why not just try from the peloton?
“It’s a hard two weeks — every day there will be an opportunity.”
Discover the latest marginal gain in the Tour team time trial