In His Own Words: Sport Director Neil Stephens on Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1

Thu 7 Mar 2013

After winning the team time trial on stage one of Tirreno-Adriatico, ORICA-GreenEDGE took to the start house as one of the pre-race favourites for a repeat win on an identical course in San Vincenzo. Averaging 51.2 kilometres/hour over wet roads, the Australian outfit covered the 16.9 kilometre course in 19:48.

The second team to race, ORICA-GreenEDGE had the fastest time when the crossed the finish line. Movistar was the first team to post a new best time. By the end of the day, Omega Pharma QuickStep proved quickest as ORICA-GreenEDGE dropped down to sixth. In his own words, Sport Director Neil Stephens describes his thoughts on the team time trial.

I would have to avoid the truth entirely if I said we are anything but disappointed to finish sixth in the team time trial. After pulling off the win here last year, we were highly motivated to do the same this year. We flew into Italy four days early to do specific preparation for the effort, and our training sessions indicated we were at least as good as last year if not better. Of course, we didn’t know how we compared to our opponents, but I was quietly confident that we would do well.

Yesterday, we trained hard in the rain, and we seemed to have riding in adverse conditions down pat. Unfortunately, today proved otherwise. I reckon we could have done a lot better if it hadn’t been raining. We lost a lot of time cornering.

Stuart O’Grady was the first man out of the start house and assumed an important leadership role on the road. He’s our most experienced rider and has great condition at the moment. His job was to start fast and get a feel for the legs of the eighth guy.

We lost Mitch Docker around the ten kilometre mark. Brett Lancaster suffered mechanical failure on the one little digger of a climb, and we lost him, too. That hurt us.

When you look our time compared to the time of the stage winners, we lost 10 seconds to Omega Pharma – QuickStep in the first half of the race and 14 seconds to them in the second part of the race. The time lost in the first half of the race was nearly all in the first two kilometres that included a tight left-hand turn. The boys worked well together, and we maintained our speeds on the straights. 

I’ve heard that several of you have asked why Svein Tuft and Daryl Impey were not in their national champion skinsuits today. Our team had understood that the individual time trial national champions wore their national champion kits during a team time trial, so we turned up to the race with Svein and Daryl in their national kits.

Less than 15 minutes before the start, we were told that because of the team time trial world championships, individual time trial champions no longer wear their national champion kits for the team discipline.  It caused a bit of stress to find non-national championship skinsuits for Svein and Daryl that close to the start of our race. I saw at least three other teams who had riders racing in their national champion kits, so it will be interesting to see what the judges say about all this in the communication tonight.

I’ve just now finished a debriefing with the team. We’ve reviewed what went wrong and what went right. We take our result in stride. We have to accept that today we were only the sixth best team. We know where we lost time, and we know how to do things better in the future.