The 33-year-old Australian thanked Daryl Impey for his impressive lead-out but seemed to lose hope of having won after the race officials left him to go in search of Sagan. Then suddenly they returned, as Robbie McEwen and other Orica-GreenEdge staff arrived. A radio suddenly crackled. "Gerrans a gagne!" Gerrans had won. He and everyone started celebrating and cheering.
"It's unreal to have won," Gerrans said after hugging Impey who had lead him out so well in the sprint and waited to see if he had won.
"I just followed Daryl and he delivered me at 200m from the line. I saw Sagan coming up beside me and we were drag racing towards the line. I wasn’t sure who won at first, there was only a tyre in it. That’s why I didn’t want to celebrate the win too early. But it's great to get it."
It was Gerrans' second stage win at the Tour de France after winning a mountain stage from a breakaway in 2008. However it was the first for the Orica-GreenEdge team and so a historic moment for Australian cycling.
"It’s a fantastic win for the team," Gerrans said.
"We had a very good start to the season last year but we missed a stage at the Tour de France. It was our big objective this year and so I'm really happy to have done that on stage three.
"Last year I came into the Tour hoping I would improve throughout the Tour de France with the objective at the races at the back of the Tour, whereas as this year I aimed to be in top form at the first few stages."
A gradual metamorphosis
Gerrans' stage win in 2008 came after a courageous breakaway in the mountains. Five years later he won in the sprint. His different style of victories reflect Gerrans' gradual metamorphosis as a rider.
"Early in my career I was an opportunist and went into breakaways. That’s how I got the win in the mountains. It's not really my forte but I got in the right break and was able capitalise on that," he said.
"Throughout the years I got stronger. I just matured over the years as a bike rider and got stronger. Now I’m able to get the upper hand in a sprint and win after a big selection. I've grown into a leader, too, and had full support of my team today. It's great to finish it of for Orica-GreenEdge."
A bizarre day for the team bus in Bastia
The Orica-Green Edge team's Tour de France began in disaster when the team bus hit the finish line arch and almost blocked the finish of stage one in Bastia on Saturday. Matt Goss was unable to contest the sprint after a late crash, completing a bad day for the Australian team.
Gerrans describe it as a bizarre day but fully supported the Orica-GreenEdge bus driver.
"We have a fantastic bus driver and he handled himself really well. We didn’t know what happened throughout the stage. We finished is like it was a normal stage and only saw afterwards the footage of the bus stuck. We could really do nothing but laugh at the situation. We are all proud at how he handled it. He was embarrassed but we felt sorry for him."