ORICA-GreenEDGE has claimed the opening team time trial at the Giro d’Italia in San Remo this afternoon, seven seconds faster than nearest rivals Tinkoff-Saxo.
The Australian outfit finished the 17.6km race against the clock in 19minutes 26seconds, 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Simon Gerrans the first rider across the line to claim first honours in the pink ‘maglia rosa’ leader’s jersey.
“If I could chop the front of this jersey into nine pieces and share it amongst my teammates I would,” Gerrans said.
“Then the back of the jersey needs to be chopped into about 50 pieces for everyone involved in the ORICA-GreenEDGE organisation because it’s a real credit to everybody within the team that we have these successes.”
As riders negotiated the fast and flat course along the Italian coastline, much of which via a narrow bike path, a head wind assisted the strong team which included time trial specialists Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge, Kiwi Sam Bewley and Brett Lancaster.
“We weren’t quite sure what to expect with the bike path but it ended up being a fantastic course, a little technical in parts but very fast,” Gerrans said. “Then with the head wind we had, it really suited the strong team we had here.”
Gerrans was thrilled to pull on the leader’s jersey to end a tough start to the season.
“I’ve had a difficult start to this year but I said all along things can change really quickly and I can’t think of a better way,” the 34-year-old said.
“I hope everyone in Australia stayed up late to watch the stage and I hope my mates in Mansfield understand the significance of this win here and why I am wearing a pink shirt.”
The nine-man ORICA-GreenEDGE team went out hard but with well thought out tactics was able to come home even stronger.
With six teams still to ride, the outfit was leading at the intermediate time check by eight seconds and at the finish line by 13seconds.
Shortly after, Tinkoff-Saxo posted a faster intermediate check by two seconds to cause some temporary concerns but they suffered in the latter half of the race.
“It’s very gratifying,” sport director Matt White said of the victory. “We were favourites in everyone’s books and we’ve had a great track record in this discipline since we started as a team.”
“It is a bit of pressure but the guys, they are used to it and they can handle it.
“Winning these events is really nice because they are team wins. We do put a lot of effort into it but it’s a sensational result.”
As ORICA-GreenEDGE crossed the finish line they had six riders still together, Gerrans, Hepburn, Simon Clarke, Michael Matthews, Pieter Weening and Esteban Chaves.
Pleased that everything went to plan, White praised the efforts of the entire team.
“We knew we had to go out very very fast,” White said. “We did and you pay for that.”
“We had looked at certain parts of the course that we needed to start shedding guys and even though we had the fastest intermediate time check we knew we still had to do it.
“A couple of our big boys put in some monster turns to raise the speed again before they exited. “
Tomorrow, the Giro d’Italia road stages commence with a 177km journey from Albenga to Genova. With just one category four classified climb, over 50km from the finish, stage two is expected to come down to a bunch sprint.