The Orica-GreenEdge team won the second stage of the Eneco Tour of the Low Countries on Tuesday, an 18km team time-trial, as the Saxo Bank team of former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador slumped to ninth.
The Australian team clocked 21 minutes, 9 seconds in the race around Sittard to finish one second ahead of Belgian outfit Omega Pharma-Quickstep, with Russia’s Katusha third, 2 seconds off the pace.
Belgian Jens Keukelaire was the first Orica rider to cross the finish line and he takes the overall leader’s jersey from Germany’s Marcel Kittel, of the Argos-Shimano team.
Contador is making his comeback from a two-year doping ban and, while his team finished ninth-fastest at 27 seconds, the Spaniard drew plenty of positives from the day’s stage.
“I felt good and my legs are going quite well, but it was too flat a time-trial for me, because it is on the climbs where I can really make a difference,” he said.
Yesterday’s third stage covers 188km from Riemst to Genk in Belgium and should favor the sprinters, with the race finishing on Sunday.