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Gerrans claims historic first stage win for Orica-GreenEdge

updated 5:28 PM EDT, Mon July 1, 2013
Simon Gerrans celebrates the first stage win at any Tour de France for Australian team Orica-GreenEdge.
Simon Gerrans celebrates the first stage win at any Tour de France for Australian team Orica-GreenEdge.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Simon Gerrans claims historic first stage win for Orica-GreenEdge
  • Second-placed Peter Sagan takse green jersey for best sprinter off Marcel Kittel
  • Jan Bakelants retains yellow jersey ahead of Tuesday's team trial in Nice

(CNN) -- Just a year and a half after making their debut, Orica-GreenEdge became the first Australian team to win a stage at the Tour de France as Simon Gerrans finished ahead of the pack in a tight sprint finish in Corsica.

A photo finish was needed to separate the Australian from Slovakia's Peter Sagan, after the riders traveled 145.5km from Ajaccio to Calvi for the third and final stage on the island.

Read: Bakelants takes yellow jersey

Belgium's Jan Bakelants -- who won Sunday's stage -- ensured his debut in the famous race, which is celebrating its 100th edition, continued in the brightest vein as he retained the yellow jersey.

His RadioShack Leopard team worked hard to enable the 27-year-old to cross the line in 19th place and so retain the prestigious jersey -- but the day belonged to the Australian newboys.

"This is a huge win," Gerrans told the team's official website. "It's a huge moment for the team. We have been so close on so many occasions. Hopefully it's the first of many more to come."

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"I had no idea if I had won. I knew it was really close, and I wasn't going to celebrate too early. Sagan and I were on the opposite ends of the road and we both threw our bikes.

"My win was confirmed a few minutes later. We're all pretty ecstatic."

Sagan's second place allowed him to take the green jersey for the best sprinter from Marcel Kittel, the German who won the opening stage of the race in Bastia on Saturday.

Gerrans' victory was his second stage win, having previously achieved the feat in the Alps when riding for Crédit Agricole in 2008, and partly atoned for sprinter Matt Goss's failure to take a stage at last year's race.

"We had a brilliant first season last year, but we really missed winning a stage on the Tour de France so this year it was a big objective for the team to win a stage and I'm really happy to have done that," Gerrans, who won last year's Town Down Under in his home country, said in his post-race press conference.

Making their racing debut in January 2012, Orica-GreenEdge were founded the year before with the express intention of becoming Australia's first road race cycling team.

Read: 'Tour de Farce' for errant team bus

Gerran's finish also earned better headlines for a team whose bus driver invited ridicule after becoming stuck under the finish arch on the opening day of the tour.

Garikoitz Atxa, a Spanish former cyclist who was on his first day working as the team's bus driver, was caught on camera with his head in his hands when the incident happened -- with the team later fined $2,116 by race organizers.

"We didn't really find out what happened until we finished the first stage," said Gerrans, 33.

"Afterwards we saw the footage of the bus being stuck under the finish line, and you can really do nothing but laugh at the situation. It was such a bizarre scenario for that to happen.

"The bus driver did a fantastic job. We are all really proud of how he conducted himself in the team; for sure, he was really embarrassed so we really felt quite sorry for him."

Tuesday's team trial in Nice could see race favorite Chris Froome take the yellow jersey given the strength of Team Sky.

The time for each team will be taken when their fifth rider crosses the line.

Meanwhile, Andrey Kashechkin of the Astana team and Cofidis' Yoann Bagot became the first two riders to withdraw from this year's Tour after suffering digestive problems and food poisoning respectively.

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