Orica GreenEdge stage win relieves pressure: ‘The monkey is off the back’
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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Orica GreenEdge stage win relieves pressure: ‘The monkey is off the back’

by VeloNation Press at 8:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Video
 
Australian team ready to chase more success after breakthrough victory with Gerrans

Simon GerransBasking in the glow of Simon Gerrans’ win on yesterday’s stage three of the Tour de France, the Orica GreenEdge team considers a major goal has been achieved, and that the release of that pressure means that more success should follow.

Veteran rider Stuart O’Grady was, like his team-mates and staff, jubilant at yesterday’s result. “The monkey is off the back…the first Tour de France stage win for Orica GreenEdge. Gerro’s come up with the goods again. A historical moment!”

Team sports director Neil Stephens is clear about the significance. “That was it – unbelievable. First stage win, it is not going to be the last.”

The team had its first season in 2012 and while Gerran’s Milan Sanremo success set it on the road to winning big, its inaugural Tour de France campaign was a frustrating one. Matt Goss was second on stages five and eighteen, and also clocked up third places on stages two, six and twenty; close but no cigar.

With each near miss came an increase in pressure; the team was banging on the door, but not quite able to translate that into victories.

Stages one and two of this year’s Tour were also fruitless, with Daryl Impey placing eleventh and eighth. Yesterday the team decided to switch things around, with Impey assigned to lead out Gerrans. The bunch was thinned down by a number of difficult climbs, and the Australian was able to blast home just ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

“It is one of the last goals,” said a very satisfied Matt White afterwards, the team’s sports director. “Obviously we won last year in the Giro and the Vuelta and won a Classic, Milan Sanremo. In the Tour de France we came up short last year, we were close many times.

“It was a great day today. The boys rode very, very well. Simon Clarke was out there all day, and also setting up Simon Gerrans for the sprint – it was incredible.”

Sending Clarke, the mountains jersey winner in last year’s Vuelta a España, up the road ensured that the team didn’t have to ride during the stage. That saved energy paid off in the end, and so too did knowledge of the course.

“We were here last weekend, we rode both stages with a couple of guys, Impey and Simon Gerrans,” said White. “So they knew the climb, they knew the descent. It certainly helped.”

Gerrans was elated by the victory, his second career success in the Tour. It is his fourth win of the season after previously notching up stages in the Tour Down Under, the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

White admitted to nervousness when Gerrans went head to head against Sagan, who is normally one of the very fastest riders in the peloton. “He just held on. Even in the last kilometre, when I saw Sagan on the wheel of Simon, I thought it was going to be hard,” White said. “But look, Simon might be small but he is very fast – look at how he beat Cancellara last year in Milan Sanremo. If you look at the wins he has, he is a punchy little guy.”

Gerrans said that switching positions in the train was an important decision. “Daryl and I have been working well together in the finals in the last few days,” he explained. “Yesterday I led him out. We thought the finish suited me better today, and we made the decision to have him lead me out because of that. He’s the best in the business. He did an absolutely perfect job…”

Watch the team’s success plus the reaction to it in the Backstage Pass video below.

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