ORICA-GreenEDGE has finished a narrow third place in the unconventional opening team time trial at La Vuelta a Espana this evening.
Just one second separated all podium places, Team BMC taking the victory ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo in a time of eight minutes and ten seconds.
“One second,” West Australian Cameron Meyer, who crossed the line first for the Australian outfit, noted.
“It’s a little bit disappointing because you are so close to the win, but that’s the best we could do on the day and it shows the team is in good shape going into the rest of the Tour.
“It was a stressful 24hours doing a lot of video analysis and going over the course over and over again. There was a lot of debate but we decided to give it a go and everyone committed to the job.”
The course underwent some scrutiny in past days and as a result, whilst the stage win and first leader’s jersey were awarded, the times will not contribute to general classification standings.
Starting on a boat ramp in Puerto Banus, the 7.4km course followed the Spanish coastline to Marbella.
The surface - which varied throughout the short race from concrete, light pave, wooden boardwalks, temporary matting and a sandy path – required respect and caution. Some outfits chose not to contest as a result.
After a slower start in comparison to fellow podium placers, the Australian outfit came home strong.
“We went pretty quick in training a couple of times just to see what it felt like, but until you do it at real race speed you really don’t know what those corners or sand and bumps are going to feel like,” Meyer said.
“There was a few nervous moments out there but we all got through it safely and we did it as quick as we possibly could as a team.
“We came home really strong and that showed that our strong guys were really pulling big turns in that last section.”
After some confusion at the podium, Meyer was awarded the white ‘combined’ jersey and best combative rider courtesy of crossing the line first within the third placed ORICA-GreenEDGE outfit.
He was awarded the ‘combined’ jersey on the stage one podium, however pre-race communications advise he should receive the polka dot jersey to wear on stage two tomorrow. Clarification will be provided once available from race organisers.
“It’s definitely a bit of a different way of starting the Tour,” Meyer joked. “Third team and you get a jersey, but we will take it and show off a bit of colour tomorrow.”
"Of course we went full gas, there were a lot of teams who went full gas today," Simon Gerrans said. "Everybody was saying before the start we would take it easy, take it easy… But once you're on the bike, you never take it easy. Maybe the big favorites for the general classification might not have taken so many risks but I'm sure almost everybody went as fast as they could.
"A few sections in the corners were quite tricky so we did not take so many risks not to crash on the first stage. Coming back from a broken wrist to a time trial on those roads was not ideal! But I worked very hard just to be here and we'll see what the rest brings."
Tomorrow, the racing starts in earnest with the first road stage – a 158.7km journey from Alhaurin de la Torre to Caminito del Rey.
The road is lumpy, with much more up and down than the two category three climbs suggest. A reduced bunch is expected to survive the demands the day before arriving at the final ascent for the first summit finish.
The short but steep final climb to the line is only 2.5km long but averages just under nine percent with parts reaching 15%.
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