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Team time trial heralds yellow jersey showdown in Nice

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Omega Pharma-QuickStep en route to world championship victory

Omega Pharma-QuickStep en route to world championship victory (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cadel Evans and his BMC teammates in action during the opening team time trial.

Cadel Evans and his BMC teammates in action during the opening team time trial. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Team Sky team time trials toward a Giro stage win

Team Sky team time trials toward a Giro stage win (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ryder Hesjedal on the front for Garmin-Sharp

Ryder Hesjedal on the front for Garmin-Sharp (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Orica GreenEdge in action.

Orica GreenEdge in action. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

With just one second separating Jan Bakelant's General Classification lead from 71 other riders, the yellow jersey is certain to be resting on a new set of shoulders come Tuesday evening at the Tour de France with the completion of stage 4.

Leaving in reverse team classification order, Argos-Shimano will be the first team to leave the start house at Alpes-Maritimes. The 25km parcours is pan flat with just nine corners for the trains to negotiate on the out-and-back course meaning this stage is all about raw power.

Reigning World Champions Omega Pharma-Quick-Step may be carrying an injured Tony Martin, but the squad will head in to the stage as favourites along with TTT winners at the 2011 Tour, Garmin Sharp. Martin may still be covered in bandages following his crash on stage 1, but said following stage 3 that he was on the improve.

"Today I felt better then yesterday," Martin said. "Of course I'm still not 100 percent, but I'm feeling better than what was expected. Now I hope to get a good night's rest and tomorrow give my best effort to the team for the team time trial. I know how important it is to race hard for the team in this moment. We will do our best to get a good result."

The Belgian-based squad will be just the second to leave the start house so will have a while to wait to see if their time is good enough.

Garmin Sharp meantime carry significant firepower against the clock, piloted by yellow jersey hopeful David Millar, with Rohan Dennis, Ramunas Navardauskas and Christian Vande Velde.

Team Sky's chances took a hit with Geraint Thomas' fractured pelvis with the Welshman in for an uncomfortable ride.

"I was really looking forward to team time trial, but it's just turned into a case of survival now over these first few days," he said in Calvi.

Orica GreenEdge have been vocal over the past few days that they were zeroing in on the yellow jersey and while Simon Gerrans' victory may not have been enough to do that, the squad won't be giving up. The course is not dissimilar to that which they surprised their rivals to win at the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico, albeit slightly longer. Gerrans will be the man for the team, driven by the strength of Svein Tuft, Daryl Impey, Cameron Meyer and Brett Lancaster.

Expect BMC to also be in the mix for the podium with directeur sportif John Lelangue saying they were looking to the stage "with confidence." The penultimate team to get underway on Tuesday, they will be aiming to put Cadel Evans into the yellow jersey after a few nervous and testing days on Corsica.

"We have worked on this since the beginning of the year," said Lelangue. "We had three days on a wonderful course with a team who is in good shape and worked well to protect Cadel.

"Now we will see what happens at the team time trial and, after this, we go to the Pyrenees."

You can read Stephen Roche's thoughts plus look at the map, profile and more of Stage 4 here.

Start times - Nice team time trial

#Rider Name (Country) TeamDepart
2Omega Pharma–Quick Step15:19:00
14Movistar Team16:07:00
15Team Saxo-Tikoff16:11:00
17AG2R La Mondiale16:19:00
21BMC Racing Team16:35:00