Tour de France 2013: Simon Gerrans takes yellow jersey

Simon Gerrans

Tour de France

Dates:
Saturday, 29 June - Sunday, 21 July (8 and 15 July are rest days)
Coverage:
Live commentary on the final hours of each stage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra or online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Australian Simon Gerrans took the leader's yellow jersey after his Orica GreenEdge squad won the team time trial on day four of the Tour de France.

Orica GreenEdge rode the 25km course in Nice in 25 minutes 56 seconds to edge Mark Cavendish's Omega Pharma-QuickStep outfit by 0.75 of a second.

Britain's Team Sky, including Geraint Thomas, who is riding with a broken pelvis, were three seconds adrift.

"It's the pinnacle of the sport," said Gerrans, 33, the stage three winner.

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Tour de France 2013: Geraint Thomas 'scared of team time trial'

Despite being in pain because of his injury, Thomas took his turn at the front and stayed with his team-mates until the final kilometre.

"My race was to get to the promenade after a kilometre and then when I made it there with the team I was buzzing off that and managed to give it what I had," he said afterwards.

"I was shouting at a lot of my team-mates at the end, we just had to give it everything, we were all full gas trying to encourage each other at the end, and I think we can be proud of that."

A Team Sky win would have put Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen, their highest ranked rider, into yellow but the day still went well for their British leader Chris Froome.

The pre-race favourite gained time on his main rivals in the general classification - making six seconds on Spain's Alberto Contador and 23 seconds on Australia's Cadel Evans.

Froome, who rode strongly in the closing stages, moved up to seventh overall and sits three seconds behind Gerrans - who is not considered a Tour contender - without having the pressure of defending the yellow jersey so early in the race.

"If we were in the yellow jersey it would mean that on Wednesday, and the next couple of days, which are predominantly flat, we would do a lot of work which I think would be a bit of unnecessary extra work at the moment for such a small advantage," Froome explained.

"Personally I felt really good, I was able to do longer pulls on the front. I'm feeling like I'm coming into good form before the mountains."

Froome did not want the yellow jersey but, with 71 of the 195 remaining riders only a second behind race leader Jan Bakelants at the start of the day, several riders were eyeing that prize.

Garmin-Sharp, winners of the team time trial when it was last held in the Tour in 2011, were again among the favourites and set off with high hopes of placing Britain's David Millar in the yellow jersey.

But they could only finish sixth, 17 seconds behind Orica, and Millar blamed himself.

"I wasn't in good form but the team was very, very strong,'' the 36-year-old Millar said. "I think it was me who was missing the seconds."

Cavendish's Omega Pharma-QuickStep came closest to victory. The Manxman has been suffering from bronchitis and completed a course of antibiotics on Sunday, but he showed no ill-effects as helped his team set a time that led the way for much of the day.

Cavendish will hope for an individual win of his own on Wednesday, with stage five following a 219km route from Cagnes-Sur-Mer to Marseille that contains no major climbs and offers him a chance for his first stage win of this year's Tour.

For now, however, it is Orica and Gerrans who are celebrating.

Following Gerrans's dramatic individual stage win on Monday, Orica's latest success means they continue to make the headlines for the right reasons following the embarrassment of seeing their team bus get stuck under the finish gantry on Saturday's opening stage.

Gerrans, 33, took the overall lead from Belgian rider Bakelants and leads the standings ahead of team-mates Daryl Impey of South Africa and Michael Albasini of Switzerland.

"I couldn't have imagined this would happen. It's a dream for me, my team and a lot of people in Australia as well," said Gerrans.

"My first coach was Phil Anderson, who was the first Australian to wear the yellow jersey. So to do that as well is something special.

"I knew there were some special stages for me in the first week. It's a huge satisfaction to win the stage and take the yellow jersey. We'll try and hold it for a couple of days now."

Stage four results:

1. Orica (Aus) 25:56"

2. Omega Pharma-Quick-Step (Bel) +1"

3. Team Sky (GB) +3"

4. Saxo - Tinkoff (Den) +9"

5. Lotto (Bel) +17"

Overall standings after stage four:

1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica 12:47:24"

2. Daryl Impey (SA) Orica SAME TIME

3. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica

4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep +1"

5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep SAME TIME

Selected others:

7. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky +3sec

9. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff +9sec

12. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff +9sec

13. David Millar (GB) Garmin +17sec

28. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC +26sec

96. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky +9'18"

154. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky +26'03"

159. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +26'50"

176. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +26'37"

Green points jersey standings:

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 74 points

2. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano 57 points

3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 48

4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 41

4. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin 40

Selected others:

12. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 30

20. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 25

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