Gerry Ryan likely to announce new Orica-GreenEdge sponsor before 2016 Tour de France

Australian team owner hopes cycling can refocus on Asia and China long-term

In an interview with The Australian Financial ReviewOrica-GreenEdge team owner Gerry Ryan explained he is likely to announce a new sponsor before the Tour de France grand depart on July 2 in Mont-Saint-Michel. Orica, who have been a naming rights sponsor since mid-way through the 2012 season, announced they would be withdrawing from the team at the end of the 2017 season.

The AFR reports that Ryan is also confident in announcing a larger contract with "a multi-national firm, [that] could involve his Marketplacer business - the owner of the fast-growing Bike Exchange website."

The Bike Exchange logo features on the sleeves of the Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS teams in 2016, while Ryan's other business ventures, Jayco caravans and Mitchelton Wines have also featured on the kits of both teams.

Ryan is confident the new sponsor could potentially take on co-naming rights of the team.

In May, the team recorded its first grand tour podium result as Esteban Chaves finished second to Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro d'Italia. It was also the first time the team had targeted the GC at a grand tour having first started as a team focused on sprint and team time trial wins.

"When we started we were about winning sprints or classics but now we have a more well-rounded team, and we have genuine general classification chances," said Ryan.

While the team is transitioning to focusing on the overall at grand tours, in the Tour the team has announced its ambitions are based around stage wins with Adam Yates to gain further experience of riding three-week races.

"We're aiming to win a [Tour] stage or two and we've identified several we think we are a chance at," he said of this year's route and Orica-GreenEdge's fifth appearance. "But I think we will be in a position to have a real crack at winning [the overall race] in 2017 and 2018. It is about list management, as we do at the Melbourne Storm in the NRL (Ryan is a shareholder) where we are bringing in the young ones around Cameron Smith and so on.

"So we're getting in the general classification and we are building around them more. It is about having the depth, and the culture. We've recruited riders who say we've added years to their career because of the training and recovery we do. People are coming to us now, that is the respect we are getting on the circuit."

Having initially started with a list of older riders, Orica-GreenEdge have turned to youth in recent years and added the likes of Caleb Ewan, Jack Haig, Alexander Edmondson, Chaves and the Yates twins, Adam and Simon. However, it's not all about youth with 38-year-old Mat Hayman having proven his value and worth to the team in April when he won Paris-Roubaix. Orica-GreenEdge's third monument victory since its 2012 introduction into the professional peloton.

Finding the balance of youth and experience is key for Ryan who stressed the importance of development for the likes of Ewan.

"We have to be careful about expectations. Remember Robbie McEwen was 27 when he started winning big races, Caleb is younger [at 21]," Ryan said of his young sprinter who won a stage on his grand tour debut at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.

Ryan is also looking to Asia, and China in particular, for the long-term future of the sport with the popular 'Backstage Pass' daily video to be translated into Chinese for this year's Tour. 

"I'm excited about where this team is going. We're respected out there now, and that gives me a great deal of satisfaction," he explained.

With the announcement that the UCI and the Tour de France organsiers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have buried the hatchet and pushed forward with reforms to the WorldTour, and WorldTour calendar from 2017, Ryan believes it is only good news for the sport and has provided stability for his Orica-GreenEdge project.

"We are told we have to race here and there now, and we can't be everywhere [with one team]. So this will reduce costs," added Ryan



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