Orica GreenEdge: 2015 Report Card

Year of transition for Australian team with emergence of Chaves a highlight

WorldTour ranking: 8/17
Win count: 28 (down from 35)
Top riders: Michael Matthews (20), Adam Yates (35), Simon Yates (36), Esteban Chaves (39)

The 2014 season was one of transition for Orica-GreenEdge as its younger riders stepped forward and took responsibility. Neo-pro Caleb Ewan won 11 races, including a stage of the Vuelta a Espana, Esteban Chaves finished fifth at the Vuelta and won two stages while the Yates twins continued their progression as Grand Tour contenders. Add to that Michael Matthews' consistently in hitting the podium in all except one race he started and there was much to like about the Australian WorldTour team in 2015.

With the highs come the lows and Simon Gerrans certainly came back to earth in 2015, having finished last season as the third best rider on the UCI WorldTour standings. A broken collarbone in a pre-Christmas mountain bike ride derailed his Australian national title and Tour Down Under defence, a crash on his return at Strade Bianchi set him back again while Leige-Bastogne-Leige also saw the 35-year-old hit the deck. The first maglia rosa of the Giro d'Italia was a rare highlight.

For the first year in its history, Orica-GreenEdge failed to win the Australian title and a stage of its 'home' race, the Tour Down Under. Daryl Impey opened the team's account with the South African national time trial title, opening the floodgates as Cameron Meyer won a stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour the next day. Caleb Ewan made it two in a row before Meyer added the overall to his palmares, completing a rare Australian double. The wins kept coming at Tour de Langkawi via Ewan, and Matthews then opened his account at Paris-Nice, also taking the yellow jersey.

While Orica-GreenEdge won Milan-San Remo in 2012 with Gerrans, there weren't too many bookmakers taking large bets for Matthews for the first Monument of the season. Third place suggested the 25-year-old could be back in the seaside town as a winner in years to come. He followed it up with a win on the opening stage and the leader's jersey at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.

A rather innocuous cobbled Classics campaign saw the team head to the Ardennes hungry for a result but an underdone Gerrans made it appear to be a hard task until Matthews stepped up again. A third place at the Amstel Gold Race demonstrated he'd added another arrow to his quiver.

Michael Albasini did what he does best, hoovering up Tour de Romandie stage wins, before Orica-GreenEdge went to the Giro and was arguably the team of the first week. The team repeated its team time trial victory of 12-months prior, passed the pink jersey around between Gerrans, Simon Clarke and Matthews with the latter winning in Sestri Levante wearing pink.

Ewan owned the Tour de Korea with four stages and the overall victory, Matthews added a Tour de Suisse stage win and it was looking good for the Tour. Unfortunately Gerrans crashed out as his luck continued to abandon him. Albasini also withdrew with injury while Matthews looked like a mummy with all his bandaging for the first half of the race. Adam Yates on La Pierre-Saint-Martin and his brother Simon on l'Alpe d'Huez impressed, but this was a Tour down on past successes.

Adam Yates' Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian victory kicked off a successful month of racing in Spain, with Chaves' two Vuelta stage wins and a new classification jersey almost every day for the Colombian, and another win from Ewan. Matthews grabbed a stage win at the Tour of Alberta where the team narrowly missed out on TTT victory. A prescient results with the team then missing the medals in the discipline at the World Championships.

Second placed finishes at the GP's Montreal and Quebec added to the team's WorldTour tally while Chaves' stage and overall win at the Abu Dhabi Tour ensured the team finished the season on a high and ready for its GC approach for 2016.

What to expect in 2016

The fifth season of Orica-GreenEdge's existence in the pro peloton is all about general classification. Chaves will ride the Giro and Vuelta again with the focus on improving his fifth place overall. GreenEdge are taking the long term approach with its GC rider and will not be publicly announcing its aim for a podium finish. Chaves may achieve such a result but considering this is just his second year of riding for GC at the Grand Tours he won't be burdened by pressure.

The Yates twins will be aiming for the top 10 at the Tour de France, and such a result could be likely depending on their start to the 2016 season. Similarly, they won't be under great pressure considering they are third year pros. Gerrans and Matthews stage win hunting during the Tour should also detract from any intense pressure on either Yates to record a top-five or best young riders jersey success.

Ewan has shown enough in one season that he will be sprinter to watch in the coming years and so far followed a path of year-on-year development.

Best signing: Australian GC duo of Jack Haig and Rob Power in some ways replicas of Yates twins. Two young talents of which it is unclear who will initially perform best but both were top talents at U23 level and it is surely more a matter of 'when' not 'if'. GreenEdge gave the Yates' and Ewan Grand Tour starts in their first seasons, so a repeat for this duo would be consistent but they are long term projects for the team and will be managed accordingly.

Biggest loss: Simon Clarke is arguably the team's biggest loss from the 2015 season as he offered the team a rider able to step into Gerrans' shoes as he slows with age over the next couple of years. However Gerrans should continue to fire for some years still and the team's signing suggest that Clarke has been adequately replaced.

There was no surprise departure from the team this season as GreenEdge have brought in quality for each rider who has been moved on for 2016. The team wasn't going to get anything more from the likes of Cam Meyer and Leigh Howard for example and made that decision accordingly.

Man to watch: Simon Gerrans' return to form while the exciting progress and development of the Yates twins and Chaves ensure a spread of expectation in terms of riders to watch. Add in Matthews and Ewan and singling out a rider for 2016 becomes a tough ask.

However, Magnus Cort joined the team as one of the young riders on the Pro-Continental circuit in 2014. He didn't manage a victory in 2015, his role switching between sprinter, lead out man and domestique. Four top-ten finishes in WorldTour races suggest a win isn't too far away for the 22-year-old who could just be the next big thing to emerge from Orica-GreenEdge's ranks. 

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