Gerrans gives Orica-GreenEDGE a reason to celebrate

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Winners are grinners (Getty Images)

After an eventful start to the Tour de France, Orica-GreenEDGE can now take comfort knowing it's already secured its Tour objective: a stage win.

I guess today the trick was great teamwork. I really had the full support of my team-mates, right up until the last couple of hundred metres. That was the key.

Simon Gerrans sprinted to victory on the third stage of the Tour de France in Calvi to win Orica-GreenEDGE its first Tour de France stage.

The 33-year-old's outfit were the villains of the opening day, although it was not as if any of its riders were at fault when their bus became stuck under a gantry at the finish line in an incident that was later blamed for causing a mass crash among the peloton.

"It's a fantastic victory for the team. We had a brilliant first season last year, but we really missed winning a stage on the Tour de France so this year it was a big objective for the team to win a stage and I'm really happy to have done that," said Gerrans, who won last year's Town Down Under in his home country as well as the Milan-San Remo.

His victory in Calvi was achieved by the narrowest of margins from Peter Sagan (Canondale), with barely half a wheel separating Gerrans from last year's green jersey winner.

"Sagan is such a complete rider," he said. "He wins in the mountains and he can win bunch sprints.

"But I guess today the trick was great teamwork. I really had the full support of my team-mates, right up until the last couple of hundred metres. That was the key."

Gerrans has now won two stages on the Tour, but in vastly contrasting circumstances, with his previous success coming in the Alps in 2008.

He insists he has matured and grown into his role as a team leader in the intervening years, and said: "Early in my career, I was an opportunist, going for the breakaways and with that I was able to win a mountain-top finish.

"That is really not my forte but I put myself in the right break and was able to capitalise on that back in 2008.

"As I've progressed over the years I've sort of become stronger and now I'm really able to win a race when the bunch is whittled down."

Meanwhile, looking back at the now infamous bus incident, Gerrans said all he could do was laugh, although he acknowledged that all of the Orica-GreenEDGE team felt for the hapless driver Garikoitz Atxa.

"It was definitely a bizarre day, not something that anybody on the team was expecting, nor anybody around the world.

"We didn't really find out what happened until we finished the first stage. Afterwards we saw the footage of the bus being stuck under the finish line, and you can really do nothing but laugh at the situation."

Before the Tour Grand Depart Orica-GreenEDGE general manager Shayne Bannan said the team needed to secure a stage win in order for its campaign to be considered a success.

"This means absolutely everything to the team," said Orica-GreenEDGE technical adviser Robbie McEwen.

"We came to the Tour de France not only wanting to win a stage but really needing to in our second season."

Gerrans's win capped what was a fine day all round for the team, with Simon Clarke starring as part of the five-man group that broke away early in the stage and reaching the summit of each of the first three climbs in first place to take the day's combativity award.

"I was brought here to take part in breakaways," said the 26-year-old. "I don't know if I'm a climber. I'm more of an opportunist.

"I took my chance today. Unfortunately, one kilometre before the summit of the last climb I was caught but I'm very happy that Simon (Gerrans)  took advantage.

"What happened with the bus was not ideal but now we can talk about Orica-GreenEDGE for different reasons."

SBS will broadcast all stages of the Tour de France live.

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