Tour de France shorts: Commemorative jerseys for Orica-GreenEdge

Orica-GreenEdge will wear jerseys commemorating WWI battles

Orica-GreenEdge will wear special jerseys for stage 5 that commemorate significant battles Australian troops fought during World War 1. The 189.5km route from Arras to Amiens Metropole passes through key battlefields from the conflict, and the team will honour the 295,000 Australians who fought and 46,000 who sacrificed their lives on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918 with a commemorative armband that features the Australian Centenary logo.

“When the route was announced for the 2015 Tour de France we knew stage 5 was going to be of huge historical importance to us as an Australian team,” said General Manager Shayne Bannan. “We are really pleased that together with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Australian Embassy in France, and with the support of ASO, we are able to wear these commemorative armbands to honour our Anzacs and thank them, even if just in a small way, for their sacrifice towards our future. We are also looking forward to celebrating our country with the local towns along the stage route who are planning proud displays of their connection with Australia.”

The stage 5 route passes through Bullecourt, Pozières, Péronne and Villers-Bretonneux – all key battlefields for Australia in World War 1, and all included in the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front that has been developed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“The Tour de France is viewed by millions around the world and this symbolic gesture by Orica-GreenEdge, wearing an armband with the words a Century of Anzac – the Spirit Lives, on the very day the Tour passes through the battlefields of the Western Front is not only poignant but will ensure the Australian contribution to the First World War is not forgotten,” said Stephen Brady, Australian Ambassador to France.

In addition, the Santos Tour Down Under is planning to join the celebration of Australian spirit, calling all Australian fans to join them at a spot they're calling "Aussie Corner."

“The Santos Tour Down Under is calling on all Aussies and Aussie cycling fans alike at the Tour de France this year to join forces and create Australia Corner in Villers-Bretonneux to commemorate the significance of this historic location for both countries,” said Hitaf Rasheed of Events South Australia.

Cycling fans are being urged to head to to Villers-Bretonneux, the Stade Timerman at the corner of Rue d'Amiens and Rue de Corbie and make some noise.

“Bring your flags and Aussie pride to help the TDU create Australia Corner," Rasheed said. "This is an opportunity for the Australian fighting spirit to be celebrated, loud and proud.”

Orica's jerseys during stage 5 will honour Australians who fought in World War I.

Sagan saves a little for the final sprint in Cambrai

Peter Sagan went into the Tour de France's fourth stage with one clear job: to support Tinkoff-Saxo's overall contender Alberto Contador through the seven sectors of cobbles between Seraing and Cambrai.

After successfully completing his duties as a domestique, and with Contador safely in the front group at the end of the race, Sagan then turned his attention to the finish, where he mustered up enough left-over power to sprint to third place and a spot on the stage podium. 

“I am in the team with Alberto and that is important to understand," Sagan said in a team press release. "I did my very best to help him and make sure that I did my part in keeping him in the first group. Then I was almost dropped from the first group after I had closed a gap, but I was able to recover a bit for the final sprint. But I didn’t expect that I could finish third, as I had spent a lot of energy. I’m very happy with the result today, as I spent much energy and I’m glad that Alberto got through the stage in a nice way – this is the most important."

Although Sagan will be a part of Contador's support crew for the duration of the three-week event, he noted that there may be an opportunity to try for a stage win later in the week.

Van Avermaet: It was a nervous day

BMC's Greg Van Avermaet finished fourth in the Tour de France's cobbled stage 4, in what he said was a "nervous day." The Belgian, who was third at Paris-Roubaix in April, spent much of the day in support of team leader Tejay van Garderen but was able to go for the sprint at the finish.

With solo stage winner Tony Martin off the front, Van Avermaet sprinted in behind John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

"Going into every cobblestone section, there was a fight for positioning because everybody wanted to have their leader in front," Van Avermaet said. "We kept it pretty good in the front. We were always there, always ahead of the situation. I think we did a good job. I would have preferred to have won the stage, but Martin chose a good moment."

Boasson Hagen sprints to fifth after successful day on the Cobbles

Norwegian champion Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) nearly cracked the podium during the Tour de France’s fourth stage, which featured seven cobblestone sections before the finish in Cambrai.

Boasson Hagen crossed the line fifth on the stage that was won by Etixx-QuickStep’s Tony Martin with a late solo move. Boasson Hagen finished in a select group behind John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

“It was a very good stage today,” Boasson Hagen said. “The team did well to keep me in front at all the important moments. I was feeling fine all stage and pretty good over all the cobble sectors. I was able to always stay in the first group and I thought in the end Giant would ride to have a sprint for Degenkolb but that didn't happen.”

A group of about 35 riders survived the cobbled sectors and approached the final kilometres together. With most of the top general classification contenders making the front split, teams kept the pressure on, hoping to gain time on some of their GC rivals.

A small bunch sprint looked inevitable until Martin sneaked away, leaving the rest to fight for second. Boasson Hagen opened the sprint with abut 350 mteres to go, but the others were able to come around him.

“With Martin ahead I thought I would start the sprint early to have even the smallest chance of victory because my legs were still good, but we were not going to win the stage but I had to try,” he said. “I am happy though and I am feeling really good at the moment.”

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