Cent Ans de la Plus Grande Course du Monde

Tour de France

STAGE 4 : July 2

Nice Team Time Trial


Time trialing. Contre la montre. It’s weird. As racing, it’s very abstract: the lead exists in the air. In fact you don’t know for sure who’s got the lead, oftentimes, until the last team finishes — in that way it’s the opposite of a regular race. Or as happened today, the winner (Orica Green-Edge, giving Simon Gerrans the maillot jaune) is declared at whatever moment the last team on the road exceeds the previous fastest time, rendering the final kilometres on the course meaningless.

For the spectator, live or on TV, what you’re watching is almost pure technique. There’s no picking a moment to attack, no seizing a counterattack. Not so much strategy, really — just ride flat out. No hiding. Pure.

Still, as technique and as riding really fast, team time trialing is pretty cool. The concentration, more mental endurance than physical. This is what makes stage racing so interesting; by forcing teams to be strong collectively and work together in a totally different way than they do on road stages. And the lead can change. Respect to the time trialers.

Nine guys lined up and tucked, working in unison:


Team Sky


BMC, with team leader Cadel Evans in the red helmet backing off the front.


Orica Green-Edge edged out Omega Pharma just barely by 75/100 of a second (officially 1 second), with Sky :03 behind. Orica takes the lead in team standings, of course. Bakelants, as he said yesterday, is out of the lead and Simon Gerrans, who won the sprint yesterday, takes it up.

As Sky left the gate, Liggett declared, ‘This is when Chris Froome and Team Sky start their bid to win the tour de France.’ Rather overstated, but we’ve yet to see the real contenders, of course. Likewise for Contador.

French TV had a great camera set-up, I think near the midpoint time check, that afforded some great close-ups of pro cyclists doing their job:




Here’s the order in which the teams started.

Here is your daily champion for Stage 4:
Stephen Roche
Because his son Nicholas had a chance (a long shot, but still) to take the yellow jersey today when it looked like Saxo-Bank could pull ahead of Orica. Stephen Roche won the ‘triple crown’ in 1987: the Tour, the Giro, and the World Championship. Only Merckx has also done it. Shown here winning the Worlds for Ireland.