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FOIX, France (VN) — Orica-GreenEDGE has dealt with its share of close calls and bad luck, and so far has failed to deliver a stage win in this Tour de France.
The Aussie team saw Michael Albasini’s brave solo attack shot down by Sky and Lotto-Belisol Saturday in Le Cap d’Agde. The day before, a race jury’s ruling dashed its hopes of a green jersey with Matt Goss. It has not been a great two weeks of the Tour, but it has not been bad. One should remember also that the Aussie team only came into existence in January and 14 other teams have yet to win in the Tour.
Ahead of the race, the team’s general manager, Shayne Bannan, commented on what would make his team’s debut Tour a disappointment. “If we show not to be competitive,” he said, “and not in the results.”
Bannan’s team has been in the results with Goss, who sprinted to one second place and two third places.
“We’ve done a lot of work, we’ve showed that we are trying, that’s all we can do. Sometimes the luck is missing too,” Albasini told VeloNews. “We are in our first Tour as a team, we are taking all the opportunities we get. We go as hard as we can.”
Albasini rode free for 14km with Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) on Saturday, only to have André Greipel’s Lotto team catch him with 2.6km remaining.
Goss has dealt with a couple of blows, missing back-to-back stage wins behind Greipel. On Friday, he sprinted for sixth place with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) for important green jersey points. But judges ruled he deviated from his line and regulated him from sixth to seventh, then stripped him of 30 points. The loss will likely cost him his chance of winning the green jersey.
“The decision was definitely unwarranted and we had some angry boys,” sports director Matt White told VeloNews.
White heard the criticism before. Early into the team’s first race in the Tour Down Under, journalists questioned why it was going without wins. The team responded well, winning the overall with Simon Gerrans. The Tour de France overall is out of the question, but there are still seven available stages.
“Obviously,” added White, “we’re still chasing a win, but we’ve been one of the most consistent teams.”
Gerrans, Albasini and Peter Weening will lead the team through the mountains. For the other stages, Goss will rely on Daryl Impey to lead him to the line. The duo proved successful in the team’s first grand tour, the Giro d’Italia in May. Goss won stage 3 and placed third twice.
“The Tour is very important. We still have some chances and the guys are all in good shape. We’ve had no bad crashes and we’ll keep on trying until the last day of the Tour,” sports director Lorenzo Lepage added.
He looked to the bus, where his riders waited to leave Saturday’s stage. Goss, Impey and the others waited to go to the hotel and the next stages. The front curtain shifted, revealing their faces. Lepage added, “The morale is very good.”