The British outfit started last on the day, and with Orica-GreenEdge having set the fastest time with eight teams remaining, only Sky was left on course as the Australian team occupied the hot seat, watching team after team fail to eclipse their mark. The wait came down to the final second as Sky stopped the clock just 0.6 of a second faster to take top honours and put Geraint Thomas in the leader's jersey.
"In the instant it's really extremely disappointing to lose by so little," said Orica-GreenEdge sport director Neil Stephens. "But then when you sit back and analyse it, you think, 'well we did everything correctly.' The start was good, the middle was good and the climb was good. No one under-performed. What we wanted to do we achieved, it's just that Sky achieved it marginally better."
Stephens said the team has won and lost other important time trials by less than a second.
"This one was one of the losses, but we are looking forward to getting a couple of team time trial wins in the belt throughout the year, one of them hopefully next month and another towards the end of the year."
Team Sky matched Orica-GreenEdge's intermediate split time, but then covered the second-half of the course, which included the climb of the Mont d'Orzeires, less than one tick of the clock faster. Both teams will go into stage 2, a punchy 168.1km race from Apples to Saint-Imier, tied on time at 21:19.
Michael Albasini crossed the line ahead of Orica-GreenEdge teammates Simon Gerrans, Svein Tuft, Ivan Santaromita and Simon Yates, and therefore is the highest placed Orica rider in the general classification.
Stephens said Orica-GreenEdge's finishing five riders came as the result of specific strategies throughout the race.
"We wanted to get off to a strong start and get right on top of things early, which we did, making the turns a little bit shorter at the start to make sure we didn't drop the pace," Stephens said. "Then towards the middle section everyone was riding really well, it was a faultless effort.
"The drag up to the finish might not seem that hard, but after going around 55kmp/h throughout the ride, it takes its toll. The big guys in Sam Bewley and Brett Lancaster finished their jobs into the foot of the climb, and Michael Hepburn gave it one last big turn as it started.
"The short straw was drawn by Svein Tuft, who really had to push along the flat but he also needed to get over the climb to have five at the finish, so he had a fantastic ride," Stephens said. "We left it with the smaller guys who we knew would get up the climb better. Just over the top of the climb everyone was right on the limit but it was another faultless effort right through to the line."
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