Tour de France 2013
Nice Team Time Trial 25km


A team time trial, which was today's stage at the Tour de France, is one of the most dreaded events in a stage race. They typically happen early in the race, when time gaps between the riders are small, so every team has an incentive to go fast. And the teams of overall contenders have even more pressure, because seconds lost today could haunt them in Paris. So it was only a minor relief that this team test in Nice, on the fourth stage of the race, was only 25km (15.6mi).

The teams start with all riders together, working together to ride as hard as possible, and at the finish, the time of the fifth rider across the line is taken. If any rider finishes outside 25% of the winning team's time, they are eliminated from the race giving injured riders a particular reason to fear this stage as well.  Teams start in reverse order of their team general classification standing, with four-minute gaps between each team so there is little likelihood of one team passing another.

Cannondale Pro Cycling, currently ranked nineteenth of twenty-two squads, was the fourth to start. While Green Jersey Peter Sagan was but a second out of the Yellow Jersey, 71 riders were also only a second down on the leader. Whichever team won the race would have their top man take over the race lead.

Cannondale did not come to the Tour with a team built around this test, but they wanted to give everything they had to allow them to dream of Yellow for another day. Once the team rolled down the ramp and onto the streets of Nice, American Ted King started to struggle. He was still feeling the effects of his first stage crash, and it showed. He tried to get in the slipstream of his teammates, but their hot pace from the start was too much for his tired body. Despite this disappointment, he rolled on, hoping to save his Tour by finishing within the time cut.

Ahead of them, Omega Pharma-Quickstep was finishing. Specialists at this event, they stopped the clock in 27:57, meaning Cannondale's King needed to complete the distance in about 32:25, for an average speed of 46.42kph (28.9mph) to salvage his Tour.

Thinking of Sagan, Cannondale kept on the pressure. They crossed the line with eight riders in 26:30. Good enough for third best at the moment. But there were plenty of fast teams left.

Six minutes later, King crossed the line in 32:31, a great time in general and superb considering his injuries, six seconds over 25% behind Omega Pharma.  He'd have to appeal to the race officials to survive the day.

Garmin-Sharp, another strong team for this event, was looking to win and put their man David Millar in the lead. They finished sixteen seconds down on Omega Pharma. Then Orica-Greenedge came roaring up to the finish line. While not a team known for their strength in timed tests, they have a squad filled with strong time trialists. As they came blazing across the finish line, they stopped the clock in 25:56, one second faster than Omega Pharma. A new leader.  Orica held their collective breath for the arrival of Team Sky. This was a team that spared no effort and no expensive to be great at this event. But they weren't good enough today, conceding three seconds at the line.

Orica's victory put yesterday's stage winner, Simon Gerrans, into the lead - the biggest prize yet for this second-year Australian squad. Gerrans' teammates slotted into second and third, sharing the same time with him, while the top two Omega Pharma riders moved up to fourth and fifth overall. With no sprint points on the line, Sagan kept his lead in the Points competition.

For Sagan and Cannondale, despite the short distance, it was a tough day in the saddle. "Today was hard. We tried hard. We started with one rider less, with Ted coming off, and it's a bit impossible to beat another team when the other team has nine riders. But we did ok in the end. We'll continue racing for the Green Jersey and I'll continue to seek out points."  Ted King was eliminated on time leaving team Cannondale with eight riders to carry on with the goal to chase green.

Tomorrow, there will be many tired legs in the peloton. But the Tour rolls on with Stage Five, another lumpy 228.5km (142.8mi) ride from Cagnes-sur-mer to the port city of Marseille. Expect Cannondale Pro Cycling to go hard through the hills to shed the pure sprinters and to deliver Peter Sagan to the finish line for his first victory and to extend his lead in the sprint competition.

Tour de France 2013
Stage 4 Nice (Team Time Trial) 25km

Stage Results

1. Orica Greenedge                                                                 0:25:56             
2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step                                                 0:00:01             
3. Sky Procycling                                                                    0:00:03             
4. Team Saxo-Tinkoff                                                             0:00:09             
5. Lotto-Belisol                                                                       0:00:17           
13. Cannondale                                                                     0:00:34          


General Classification

1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge                              12:47:24           
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge                                same time
3. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge                           same time
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step    0:00:01           
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step         same time       


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

43. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              0:00:34           
71. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               0:01:57           
88.Kristjan Koren (Slo)                                                          0:06:12           
99. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                          0:09:49           
125. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       0:18:25           
127. Maciek Bodnar (Pol)                                                       0:18:54           
138. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    0:22:32           
157. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          0:26:34           


Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale                                      74 pts
2. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          57         
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha                             48         
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step    41         
5. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Procycling                                  40