Brett Lancaster opened the Tour de France with a sixth place finish. Storming through the streets of Liège in 7:23 over 6.4 kilometers, Lancaster finished 11 seconds down on prologue winner Fabain Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek).
“The entire team was solid today,” said Sports Director Matt White. “Brett obviously delivered the standout performance. Sixth place in the Tour is a remarkable effort. Brett is in the best condition of his life and clearly on form for the sprint train.”
White described the course as extremely fast despite select technical aspects.
“There were a few tricky sections with potholes and cobblestones,” noted White. “There were roundabouts that required a dramatic reduction in speed. Aside from those aspect, it was a fast time trial. It was the exact same course used in Liège in 2004, which Fabian also won.”
After days of waiting for racing to begin, ORICA-GreenEDGE embraced the Grand Départ.
“It’s a huge relief to finally be racing,” White said. “We were getting sick of waiting around at the hotel. We wanted to get out there and do what we’ve came here to do – and that’s race our bikes. It’s good to finally be underway. We’re all extremely excited to have the prologue done.”
Huge crowds turned out in Liège and media outlets worldwide showed a strong Australian presence in Belgium. Twelve Australians, five courtesy of the first Australian WorldTour team, rank among the 198 starters.
“There were loads of fans today,” remarked White. “We always expect massive crowds at the Tour, and Belgium delivered. Fans were practically on top of the riders – lining the barriers on both sides of the roads. It made for a good atmosphere. We’re really excited to be here with so much support.”
Racing continues tomorrow with the first road stage that ends in Seraing The finish features a 2.4 kilometer category four climb that suits an opportunist with explosive power who favors steep, short climbs.