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Gerrans and GreenEdge grab yellow

3 July 2013

CYCLING: The Australian Team Orica GreenEdge grabbed the spotlight for the second consecutive day at the Tour de France after dominating a 25km team time trial around Nice, which gave Simon Gerrans the yellow jersey last night.

It was a disappointing Stage 4 for Cadel Evans’ BMC Team who finished a disappointing ninth in the crucial stage around Nice and Evans is 23 seconds behind his main classification rivals.

It was the Australian GreenEdge outfit, which made its race debut last year, which stole the spotlight for the second consecutive day after picking up their first Tour de France stage win thanks to Gerrans when he pipped Peter Sagan at the finish line in Stage 3.

Orica's triumphant ride over a mainly flat course around Nice pushed Omega-Pharma off the virtual leaderboard by just one second.

Gerrans now leads teammate Daryl Impey by one second in the general classification ahead of Wednesday's fifth stage.

"We weren't the favourites for this course but we went out and gave it everything we had," said Gerrans.

"On this team we're all good friends and we work hard to help each other.

"It's unbelievable. It's been a dream two days for us. It really doesn't get any better than this."

Despite having no yellow jersey contender in their nine-man team Orica-GreenEdge were overjoyed at a prestigious collective win which means Gerrans will wear yellow into Wednesday's stage from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille.

With no time bonuses on offer at the end of each day's stage, the former Australian champion could also realistically keep the race lead until the start of two Pyrenean stages beginning Saturday.

Omega-Pharma had set the early pace in a time of 25min 57sec thanks in large part to the talents of Germany's world champion in the discipline, Tony Martin.

However despite the high hopes the Belgian outfit was pushed into second by Orica's winning time of 25:56.

The Sky team of overall race favourite Chris Froome finished third on the stage at 3secs off the winning pace, with his yellow jersey rival Alberto Contador coming over the finish with his Saxo Bank team a further six seconds off the pace.

Froome said Sky had been happy to finish high up without taking the lead of the race - that would have forced them into using precious energy protecting the yellow jersey.

"The main objective of today was to come through without having lost any time on the big contenders, but we've actually come through it having gained a bit of time. So that's a fantastic thing," said the Kenyan-born Briton.

Despite losing six seconds to Froome, Contador was buoyed by a team performance which he said has given him assurances about his form.

"I think it was a good day for us. Of course it's always better if you finish in front of all your rivals, but if you look at the GC we are in contention," said the Spaniard.

"I'm very happy because the team gave 100 percent. We are only four stages in, and I'm getting better every day. My aim is to be in perfect condition for the Pyrenees."

Evans loses time to GC rivals

Evans has expressed frustration with his BMC team's fourth-stage effort after losing almost half a minute to his main Tour de France rival.

The 2011 race winner conceded 23 seconds to favourite Froome from Sky and 17 seconds to Saxo-Tinkoff's Contador.

Evans knows how important 23 seconds can be having lost the 2007 Tour overall by that exact margin.

"A long way off our best TTT performance," he tweeted immediately after the stage.

"We HAVE to improve there."

The Australian congratulated Orica-GreenEdge for "pipping" current world champions Omega Pharma by a second.

The Australian team covered the 25km at an average speed of almost 58km/h.

Evans told reporters it would be tough for him to make up the lost time.

"You look to gain every second you can at this stage in the Tour and losing a lot of seconds certainly isn't what I hoped for today and isn't what I expected," the 36-year-old said.

"We'll have to go back and have a look at what went wrong."

Next week's 33km individual time trial to Mont Saint-Michel could be Evans's best opportunity to make up ground.

"Of course the next individual time trial's going to count for a lot but we are still a way off from that yet," he said on Tuesday.

"It's quite difficult to see where I can make up the lost time.

"I prefer to concede zero seconds or even make some seconds today but we are being put a bit on the back foot and we'll just have to see what opportunities come our way."

BMC won silver in the TTT at the 2012 world championships in Valkenburg.

While Evans was frustrated after stage four Orica-GreenEdge director Matt White was thrilled with his young team's performance.

"It doesn't get any better than this," he told Eurosport.

The director, back in the team car after a ban for doping, said the TTT win was a surprise but everyone did their job to perfection.

"Our guys, technically, they nailed it," White said.

AFP/AAP

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