NICE, France – Simon Gerrans started cycling because another Australian, who first wore a Tour de France yellow jersey, lent him a bike to help him recover from an injury.
Now Gerrans is wearing a Tour leader’s jersey of his own.
He was part of the Orica Greenedge squad that won the team time trial by less than 1 second Tuesday in the fourth stage, putting him in the overall lead.
One day in yellow doesn’t place him in the category of his famous countrymen Phil Anderson, the first Aussie to wear the coveted jersey in 1981, or Cadel Evans, the 2011 Tour winner.
But the 33-year-old Gerrans is still proud of his accomplishment after Anderson introduced him to the sport.
“Phil was the first Australian to wear the yellow jersey and now to be the latest Australian to wear the yellow jersey, it’s a very special feeling,” he said.
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 by 0.75 seconds and finished in 25 minutes, 56 seconds.
Gerrans, who won Stage 3 in a sprint finish, took the overall lead from Belgian rider Jan Bakelants.
Chris Froome of Sky team is 3 seconds behind Gerrans for the overall lead, while two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador is 6 seconds behind Froome.
Gerrans, who is not a contender for overall victory, hopes to keep the jersey for “a couple more days.” The next two stages are mostly flat, so he may well be able to protect his lead if there are no crashes or he gets another stage win like he did on Monday.
The Orica riders formed a circle and then hugged and slapped each other on the back when they were sure of the win.
“It’s certainly been a very, very big two days,” said team sporting director Matt White. “Most teams are judged very much by how they perform here at the Tour de France.”
Race favorite Froome’s Sky team finished third, 3 seconds off the pace, while rival Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff finished 9 seconds back.
“We’ll take that result,” Sky team boss Dave Brailsford said. “The boys pulled together.”