Simon Gerrans creates Tour history
2 July 2013
CYCLING: Australia's Simon Gerrans of the Orica-GreenEDGE team won the third stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday (AEST) in a sprint finish at the end of the 145-kilometre ride from Ajaccio to Calvi on Corsica.
Gerrans edged out Slovakia's Peter Sagan, last year's green jersey winner, in a photo finish with Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas in third.
Gerrans victory earns Orica-GreenEDGE the distinction of becoming Australia's first team to notch a stage win in the landmark event.
Belgium's Jan Bakelants, winner of the second stage, holds on to the overall race leader's yellow jersey by a one-second margin, while Sagan's second place allows him to take the green jersey for the best sprinter from Marcel Kittel.
Gerrans's victory is his second in the Tour, with his previous stage win coming back to 2008. His is the first win for an Australian in the race since Cadel Evans won the fourth stage en route to taking the yellow jersey in 2011.
"The stage went perfectly for me. It was fantastic," Gerrans, who has won stages in all three Grand Tours and also won last year's Milan-San Remo, said.
"It was like riding one of the Ardennes Classics. We spent the entire day going up or down.
"I wasn't sure if I had won because it was so tight on the line. It was like a drag race between me and Peter at the end."
His triumph is also a welcome piece of good publicity for his Orica-GreenEDGE team, who were caught at the centre of controversy on Saturday when their bus became stuck under a gantry at the first-stage finish line.
Gerrans's sprint success came at the end of a stage that was short but tricky, with the route up Corsica's west coast featuring practically no flat sections and a total of four climbs, most notably the testing category two ascent of the Col de Marsolino just 13.5 kilometres from the finish in Calvi.
That climb saw the peloton catch a breakaway of five riders, led by Dutchman Lieuwe Westra and Simon Clarke, a teammate and compatriot of Gerrans.
The Corsican section of the 100th Tour is now over, and the riders were due to depart for the French mainland later on Monday ahead of a short team time-trial in Nice on Tuesday.