Sunday was a day of survival for Orica-GreenEdge during the team time trial at the Tour de France, a discipline they often excel at. Following a devastating opening week, the depleted six-member squad found themselves finishing last, just shy of five minutes down from the winners of BMC Racing.
The Australian team are often feared on these stages, having won the team time trial in 2013 at the Tour, also at the Giro d’Italia this past May and in 2014. The plan for the first team to start down the ramp on stage 9 was to simply finish with all six riders intact.
“Today was all about conserving energy and getting all six rider to the line with as little effort as possible,” Matt White said, directeur sportif of the team. The morale on the team bus was surprisingly high, despite having the fewest team members of the race.
“A bit of a shame, the course really did suit us but hind sight is hind sight. We got through, and rest day tomorrow,” Luke Durbridge said, previous two-time time trial champion in Australia. “On different circumstances, I wish we could have had a more of a go.”
The position is not one the team is accustomed to. To help boast morale on course, White joked over the radio, reporting the squad past the first time check with the fastest time. The team approached the course taking it slow on purpose so not to drop Michael Matthews, who continues to recover from broken ribs suffered during stage 3.
“Fastest time at the first check guys,” Matt White joked, directeur sportif for the squad. Last position is not one the team is accustomed to. They later explained they had taken the course slow on purpose, so not to drop Michael Matthews who continues his recovering from broken ribs suffered during stage 3.
“Michael is getting better and better every day. When he is going to be ready to target a stage, I’m not sure, but today was certainly a day that helps towards that cause,” White added.
The nervous opening of the week is now behind them, as the team heads into the rest day to recover and regroup. “Tomorrow is a well deserved rest day. It also shifts us into phase two of the Tour,” White said. “There are certainly days in the second week that we are going to go for, when and where we will have to see.
"It’ll be the first and last time that we ride a team time trial like that. It’s been an incredibly, stressful first eight days of the Tour de France, for everyone involved.”