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THE HAGUE (AFP) — The Orica-GreenEdge team won the second stage of the Eneco Tour on Tuesday, an 18km team time trial, as the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team of former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador slumped to ninth.
The Australian team clocked 21:09 in the race around Sittard to finish one second ahead of Belgian outfit Omega Pharma-Quick Step, with Russia’s Katusha third, at two seconds off the pace. It was the Australian squad’s second TTT win of the year on the WorldTour, after its victory at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, and is a shot across the bow ahead of next month’s debut of the trade team time trial at the world championships.
Belgian Jens Keukelaire was the first Orica rider to cross the finish line, and he took the overall leader’s jersey from Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who won Monday’s first stage.
“I think it was the best team time trial I’ve ever ridden but it wasn’t enough today,” said Omega Pharma’s Tom Boonen. “We didn’t do mistakes but maybe we still have to work on little details. We can improve what’s important. We can improve on the positioning and other little things. But today’s result is great even if we didn’t win. We have time before the TTT world championship, even if it will be completely different. The distance will be different and the team will have to ride with only six guys. We will see. We have a strong team, some of our best time trialists were not present today, so we can only improve.”
Wednesday’s third stage covers 188km from Riemst to Genk in Belgium and should favor the sprinters, with the race finishing on Sunday.