Orica-GreenEdge have confirmed that Simon Gerrans, Darryl Impey and talented young sprinter Caleb Ewan will all ride the Vuelta a Espana as the Australian team tries to shake off the bad luck and crashes that has struck their Grand Tour ambitions in 2015. The Australian team is arguably the favourite for the opening 7.4km team time trial stage in Puerto Banus.
The Orica-GreenEdge squad also includes Colombian climber Esteban Chaves, Mitch Docker, Matt Hayman, Damien Howson, Cameron Meyer and Belgium’s Jens Keukeleire.
The 21 year-old Ewan will make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta, taking on the likes of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the early sprint finishes of the race before a planned exit from the race. He has won 10 races so far this season but will be looking or his first Grand Tour victory at the Vuelta.
“This is a natural progression for Caleb, going onto a Grand Tour,” directeur sportif Neil Stephens said in a statement from the team. “But as we do with all of our young guys, we will certainly support him and have high hopes, but any pressure will only come from himself. As a team we just want him to get out there for the experience. He will ride half of the race as a maximum, if not only a week to ten days.”
“We have some great riders to guide him through – right from how he should handle the pressure before the race and the team presentation, to how to handle the media, the press conference and all the other little pressures that come with a Grand Tour.”
Gerrans and Impey back in action
Orica-GreenEdge won the opening team time trial at the Giro d'Italia, with Gerrans wearing the leader's pink jersey. However, he crashed out of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France and is hoping to finally shake off his bad luck in Spain. He fractured his wrist at the Tour de France during the high-speed crash on stage three. It his third major injury for Gerrans this season, after suffering a broken collarbone over the winter and a broken elbow at Strade Bianche. Impey fractured his collarbone in the Tour de France and will make his debut in the Vuelta.
“Simon and Daryl, two very important members of the team in general and of course at the Tour of Spain, are coming off crashes at the Tour de France – both with broken bones,” Stephens pointed out. “Realistically, we can’t expect too much out of them in the first week as they get back into racing but over the three week block I am sure they are going to be able to pick out their moments to shine for the team.”
Orica-GreenEdge enjoyed success at the recent Clásica San Sebastián in Spain thanks to Adam Yates. Neither of the Yates twins will ride the Vuelta after their impressive performances in the Tour de France but the Orica-GreenEdge team is hoping to continue their run of success in Spain after a difficult season due to injuries.
“We are going to shoot pretty high,” Stephens said. “We are coming off a fantastic Clásica San Sebastián and hopefully that is the trend of what is to come for the next month of racing in Spain. We would like to get Esteban in the top ten on the general classification. We also want to pull off a stage win and if we can pull off one, why not two.
“We are coming off a Tour de France being proud of what our guys managed when the odds were stacked up against them, but we didn’t walk away with the results we were hoping for so we are coming into this Grand Tour with a very motivated team.”
Orica-GreenEdge for the Vuelta a Espana: Simon Gerrans, Darryl Impey, Caleb Ewan, Esteban Chaves, Mitch Docker, Matt Hayman, Damien Howson, Jens Keukeleire and Cameron Meyer.
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