Orica Greenedge won the team time trial Tuesday on the fourth stage of the Tour de France to put veteran Australian rider Simon Gerrans in the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Considered an outsider to win the 15.5-mile dash along the streets of the southern seaport of Nice, Orica edged pacesetter Omega Pharma-Quickstep. Orica finished in an official time of 26 minutes, 25 seconds, with the top four teams all within 10 seconds.
The 33-year-old Gerrans, who won the third stage in a sprint finish, takes the overall lead from Belgian rider Jan Bakelants.
The Orica riders formed a circle and hugged and slapped each other on the back when they were sure of the win.
Tour favorite Chris Froome’s Sky team finished third ahead of rival Alberto Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff.
Bakelants lost the leader’s jersey because his RadioShack team finished way back. He narrowly avoided a crash as he came close to hitting some railings.
Froome was 3 seconds behind Gerrans, who is not considered a Tour challenger, and two-time Tour champion Contador was 6 seconds behind Froome.
The peloton returned to mainland France after three stages in the searing heat and sinewy climbs of Corsica.
Under sunny blue skies, the teams set off at four-minute intervals and the overall team standings were reversed, meaning the first team to go was Argos-Shimano and the last team down the ramp was RadioShack.
The Argos-Shimano team, including Marcel Kittel — the German who won the Tour’s hectic first stage on Saturday — set off first. But Omega did the early damage, setting a ferociously quick time.