Top Ten in Vuelta Team Time Trial

Sat 24 Aug 2013

The third Grand Tour of the season got underway in Vilanova de Arousa Saturday evening with a team time trial won by Astana. Second to start, ORICA-GreenEDGE was ninth quickest on the deceptively technical course, finishing 45” behind the stage winners over 27km.

“We said at the start that we didn’t expect the sort of ride from this group as we had with our team time trial group at the Tour de France,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “We had different expectations for this team. We did well to run in the top ten. That was our goal, and I knew it was a realistic one. For the team we have here, it was an honourable ride.”

Riders travelled by raft to the stage start and the timing in which the travel had been arranged required most teams to deviate from their usual pre-time trial protocol. While all teams contended with the disadvantages posed by these logistics, some riders had more difficulty adapting than others.  

“Although the start location was beautiful and interesting, the way things unfolded before the start with the travel by boat from one marina to the another really messed with our usual routine,” noted Stephens. “We had a fairly good start, but Baden [Cooke] suffered without his normal warm-up. He lost contact only 5-6km into the stage.”

“Baden was full of apologies,” Stephens continued. “He felt awful not to contribute. I told him sorry was the wrong word. When you’re not on, you’re not on. He did what he could with what he had. His preparation beforehand was fantastic, and we’re confident he’ll bounce back from this.”

Despite the technical nature of the course, the team settled into a rhythm after losing Cooke. Through the first intermediate time check, they posted the fastest time, 9” quicker than Team NetApp-Endura, the only team to start ahead of them.

“The entire course was really, really windy and the first half was especially technical,” Stephens explained. “We went well after losing Baden. Then, three-quarters in, we lost Mitch Docker, so we came the line with seven.”

Simon Clarke led the team across the line, stopping the clock at 30’44. The time proved good enough for ninth place by the time Astana, the last team to start, hit the finish. Janez Brajkovic donned the red leader’s jersey while his teammate and overall hopeful Vincenzo Nibali celebrated the time he put into his general classification rivals.

“We’re happy to have the race underway,” said Stephens. “We saw an indication of some good form today. Tomorrow is a really hard stage. It’s not a great one for us; it’s more of a general contender day. We’re really looking forward to the few days after that when we can have a real go.”