If you thought a bus stuck under a gantry was an exciting beginning to the 100th Edition of the Tour de France or Stage Two’s victory by Jan Bakelants by the barest of margins was nail biting, then Simon Gerran’s inaugural victory for Orica GreenEdge was truly outstanding.
The Tour’s first visit to the island of Corsica fittingly provided Orica GreenEdge’s first stage win at the Tour. It also reminded us that Peter Sagan of Cannondale is not invincible and no one should ever underestimate the talents of Simon Gerrans.
Gerrans is a winner of Milan-San Remo, out sprinting the formidable Fabian Cancellara in the process.
Yesterday’s stage was a photo finish, with the Victorian coming out ahead.
The day really belonged to Orica GreenEdge, not just with their first and much needed stage victory, but also with Simon Clarke spending most of the day out front in a five-man breakaway.
The breakaway may have had the peloton constantly breathing down their necks for most of the stage, but Clarke and co played a terrific game of ‘catch-us-if-you-can’ along the rugged countryside of this island in the Mediterranean.
The peloton was taken on a rollicking ride along the Corsica coast, minus any reprieve from the narrow, winding roads and constant climbs, on a stage that show cased the rugged countryside of the island.
Race director, Christian Prudhomme is quoted as saying the stage is a “rally of 1000 bends” and perhaps he could of added a rally of small, narrow roads that teeter on the edge of cliffs, with some frightening drops down into an ocean of clear, azure blue.
Whilst the Australian’s win may not be a commonplace sight at the TdF, the third stage did have some familiar sights, such as RadioShack setting the pace of the peloton with the yellow jersey among them. The difference in the 2013 Tour de France, is instead of a giant Swiss, with the Grecian nickname in yellow, a young and enthusiastic Belgian was their man in the Maillot Jaune and he’ll be donning it again for the team time trial.
The day really did belong to the Aussies though, even if Simon Clarke’s KOM aspirations were not fully met. The young Victorian, who won the mountains classification as well as a stage at last year’s Vuelta, rode a fantastic race, fighting for valuable KOM points.
Pierre Rolland, the current wearer of the polka dot jersey, has claimed the KOM is not his ultimate goal, however, based on his performances over the last two days, we may not be unfair in accusing him of being disingenuous.
Clarke’s KOM aspirations are still alive and well after he cleverly made many point deposits at the bank of KOM.
To be honest, I’d also be quite happy to see the polka dot jersey revert back to just that, a jersey and as such, perhaps find itself a new wearer. Pierre Rolland’s full polka dot kit is perhaps a dot or two too many.
If I may also indulge a little more on one of favourite topics, race kits, may I also add that the breakaway did appear to be made of three teams rather than five with Minard clearly the odd man out in white with brown diamonds.
One thing is fore sure, today’s breakaway demonstrated how similar the blue kits of Vacansoleil and Orica GreenEdge are and how Europecar’s green was offset by Sojasun’s, um, green.
I’m surprised there wasn’t greater confusion in the commentary, perhaps suggesting that out debate yesterday may have to be awarded to those in favour of the status quo
Speaking of things that are certainties in cycling, there is no doubting that these men are amongst the toughest in the world and you can be sure that an event like the Tour de France makes men fight through the pain barrier.
Sky’s Geraint Thomas began the day looking positively green due to a ‘slight fracture of the pelvis’. With around 80 kilometres to go, he took a turn on the front and quite frankly, he was doing a sickening impersonation of Caspar the Friendly Ghost. He looked awful but the Welshman soldiered on.
I was, until this point, considering making a comment about Team Skybot, but it’s impossible to not admire the toughness, not just of this man, but of the riders of the pro peloton. Only the finish line provided relief for this brave effort in the saddle.
Another certainty of cycling was also on display in Stage Three of the 100th Edition of the Tour de France and that is, it must really suck to be sprinter on a stage like yesterday’s.
Although the sprinters weren’t quite as spanked as they were on Stage Two, the last two days have provided little joy for the quick men of the peloton. For many the day proved to be a constant see-saw of being dropped on the climbs, catching back up to the peloton, only to repeat it all again. And to think, the high mountains are still a little way away.
It is undeniable though, that the day was all about Orica GreenEdge.
The team’s first win at the Tour de France is a resounding victory for the growth of cycling as a truly international sport.
It also takes the pressure off sprinter Matt Goss, who many had expected to sprint to victory in the team’s debut Tour last year.
Today’s success also continues the debate surrounding the importance of Matt White to the success of the team.
White, has recently returned from a six month ban which arose out of the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong. Many on the sidelines commented that the team desperately needed his return and it would appear that the proof is in the pudding.
The third stage of the 100th Edition of the Tour de France was a cracking affair. It may still be early days for the biggest bicycle race in the world, but the boredom and lack of excitement of last year’s race is, thankfully, looking like a distant memory.
Let’s hope the next three weeks will continue to engage and engross us with more thrilling racing.