|Simon GERRANS||Michael ALBASINI||Pieter WEENING||Luke DURBRIDGE||Adam YATES||Daryl IMPEY||Simon YATES||Michael MATTHEWS||Svein TUFT|
Australia had to wait for thirty years after the (short) rise to power of Phil Anderson on the Tour de France during the reign of Bernard Hinault before it could boast a “national” team on Le Tour. In the 1990's and 2000’s, the antipodean riders built themselves a reputation of being pioneers, but also mercenaries, since they had no alternative but to knock on the door of European and American teams in order to take part in the Tour de France.
Between Phil Anderson and Cadel Evans, the first winner of Le Tour (in 2011) from the southern hemisphere, Stuart O’Grady, Bradley McGee and Robbie McEwen all wore the Yellow Jersey and the Tour de France experienced a veritable boom in Australia, where the media and sponsors just could not get enough of cyclists. What had seemed to be wishful thinking became reality with the creation of the first Australian team able to battle with the best. Named GreenEdge (due to its ecological message and green being one of the two national colours, along with gold), it benefitted from funding provided by businessman Gerry Ryan, a caravan manufacturer and event organiser (among other things), who had been sponsoring races and riders in Australia for twenty years. Very soon afterwards, a sponsor was found, namely mining industry firm Orica.
After a first Tour de France that flirted with success, as its sprinter, Matt Goss, finished five times in the top three (2nd at Saint-Quentin and Brive-la-Gaillarde, 3rd at Tournai, Metz and Paris) but without winning a stage, the team managed by Shayne Bannan burst into the headlines in 2013 with the infamous episode during which its bus got stuck under the finishing line gantry on the first stage. However, its racing qualities were more newsworthy, especially with victory in the team time-trial in Nice and the two days spent in the Yellow Jersey by Simon Gerrans, a former protégé of Phil Anderson, followed immediately by two more for team-mate Daryl Impey, the first African leader of the Tour de France! The participation in the world’s biggest cycling race by a team from down under, rubbing shoulders with the best on the planet, was no longer a pipe-dream. Decimated from the start in 2014, by Michael Matthews’ fall before the Grand Start in Leeds then that of Simon Gerrans, knocked over by Mark Cavendish on the very first stage, the best place it achieved was fourth by Michael Albasini at Saint-Étienne.
Now back in contention with Gerrans, Impey and Matthews, to which the first nine stages are well suited, it is preparing to reap the benefits of the performances, on a more mountainous terrain, of the Yates twins, especially Simon, who finished fifth on the Critérium du Dauphiné 2015 and as the best young rider.
Stage victories: 2
- 2013: Simon Gerrans at Calvi and the team time-trial in Nice
Victories in secondary classifications: 0
Yellow Jerseys: 4
- 2013: Simon Gerrans, 2 days; Daryl Impey, 2 days
6: the number of Australians who have worn the Yellow Jersey on the Tour de France (Phil Anderson, Stuart O’Grady, Bradley McGee, Robbie McEwen, Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans).
30th June 1981: Phil Anderson puts the Tour de France at the forefront of Australian minds by becoming the first rider from down under to wear the Yellow Jersey at Saint-Lary-Soulan.
30th June 2012: Brett Lancaster, an Olympic Champion in 2004, inaugurates the presence of the first Australian team on the Tour de France with 6th place on the prologue in Liège, raising much hope among his countrymen and women.
2nd July 2013: Orica-GreenEdge win the team time-trial in Nice and carry Simon Gerrans, winner of the previous day’s stage at Calvi, to receive the Yellow Jersey.