Eight of the team’s nine starters crossed the line together in the difficult hilly course to stop the clock at 1:37 behind stage-winners Astana.
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey based on a tie-breaker measured down to fractions of a second when he tied with seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong.
After seeing a half dozen of the early starting teams crashing, Cerv?lo decided to ride more conservatively in the technically challenging first half of the course and then open up the speed in the final third over wider and safer roads.
"We are very happy with the performance. The most important thing was to not have any crashes or lose too many riders. We decided to not risk anything in the first part of the course and to go full-gas once it opened up and we got back onto the wider roads," said Cerv?lo team manager Thomas Campana. "That was a smart decision and you could see our speed increasing and we avoided errors. We expected to be among the top seven or eight teams and I think we can be satisfied with our riders today."
Cerv?lo did well on the very challenging course loaded with traffic circles, narrow roads, rough surfaces and moderate crosswinds that blasted the 39km loop course in the hills around Montpellier.
One measure of success in a team time trial is having as many of the nine riders cross the line together, and in that regard, Cerv?lo posted an excellent result. Eight of the team’s nine riders finished together.
The team gauged its efforts well, using different riders’ strengths on key sections of the course.
"There was always a side-wind, rough roads, always up and down. It was a hard time trial. We had guys like Brett, Hayden and me go hard on the flats and downhills and the climbers took over on the hills," said Heinrich Haussler. "We had a good pace."
The 96th Tour de France continues Wednesday with the 196.5km fifth stage from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan. The route pushes south along the southern French coast and features two easy climbs midway through the stage before roaring into Perpignan for what should be another shot for the sprinters.
Cerv?lo will be riding once again to push Thor Hushovd, second in Monday’s stage, onto the winner’s podium.
"I expect a stage victory from Thor. He’s getting better and better and his condition is only coming up," Campana said. "This Tour is just starting. We are only at stage four. We have to be patient and take the race day by day, but when the door is open, we will go through."