ORICA-GreenEDGE safely through chaotic opening road stage at Tour de FranceSun 5 Jul 2015
Wind and rain formed a chaotic recipe for the first road stage of the 2015 Tour de France.
With this in mind, and as a stage not suited to the team’s characteristics, ORICA-GreenEDGE put an emphasis on getting through the stage unscathed. Objective achieved.
2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Simon Gerrans was the team’s highest finisher, crossing the finish line in Zelande in the first main bunch, one-minute 28seconds behind Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) who won the sprint from a select group.
“Today was always going to be very chaotic and it didn’t disappoint,” sport director Matt White said. “It could have been a lot worse conditions, but there was a pretty stressful hour of gale-force wind and torrential rain.”
“For us, getting through unscathed was definitely the main objective and thankfully, despite a lot of crashes throughout the day, all of our boys managed that.”
A group of four riders attacked after a considerable neutral zone through the Grand Depart town of Utrecht.
The peloton happily let them go but kept them in check at around two minutes as a pending wet and windy day loomed.
With a little over 100 of the 166km stage to go, the wind had its first affect on the race as Tinkoff-Saxo pushed some pace in the peloton causing the first echelons of the 2015 Tour de France.
The effort was enough to all but cancel out the early move before the two groups rejoined. But it was only temporary, shortly after the race was back in pieces.
The front group of around 20 contained many of the overall contenders and the race’s biggest sprint names. Those of interest caught behind included Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team).
“I really didn’t think there were any surprises. The teams that dominated were the Classics teams and today was like a one-day Classic,” White said.
After a flat start tomorrow, day three then hits the Ardennes region and the stage spices up with three category four climbs and a final category three to the finish.
The final three climbs were those featured in the final of the 2015 La Fleche Wallone, which was won by Alejandro Valverde with ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Albasini in third.
“We have said it before – Michael Albasini loves the Mur de Huy and he is certainly going to get our support tomorrow.”