Giro d'Italia: Orica-Scott opt for general classification and sprint strategy

Adam Yates targets the top 10, Caleb Ewan focuses on early sprint stages

The Orica-Scott team have opted for a two-pronged strategy for the Giro d'Italia, with Adam Yates targeting the general classification and Caleb Ewan taking aim at the many sprint stages in the first two weeks of the 100th edition of the Corsa Rosa.

Yates is only 24 and Ewan is just 22 but both have already proven their ability at WorldTour level and Orica-Scott have selected riders of experience to back them. Completing the Orica-Scott line-up for the Giro d'Italia are Alexander Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, Chris Juul-Jensen, Luka Mezgec, Ruben Plaza, Svein Tuft and Carlos Verona.

Both Adam and Simon Yates were scheduled to ride the Giro d'Italia but Esteban Chaves' knee problem and delayed start to the season have lead to a change in strategy, with Simon now focused on the Tour de France alongside the Colombian.

Adam won the Tour de France's best young rider white jersey and fought hard to finish fourth overall. Those skills will serve him well in this year's Giro d'Italia as he fights for the pink jersey and also the best young rider's classification.

The 22-year-old Ewan confirmed his WorldTour and Grand Tour sprints credentials in 2016 and went close to taking a stage at the Giro d'Italia. He stuttered on his return to Europe in March following his hugely successful Australia summer but two second places at the Tour de Yorkshire indicated he is ready for the Giro d'Italia, where his biggest rivals for the pure power sprints will be Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe).

"We will mix our focus between Adam in the mountains and Caleb on the flat stages," Orica-Scott directeur sportif Matt White said in a statement confirming the nine riders who will travel to Sardinia on Tuesday.

"It's a tricky mix, but we aren't the only people doing it and I am confident with the group we have we can chase both goals with success. We will certainly have something to concentrate on every day for the next three weeks."

Underdog status

White is keen to start the Giro d'Italia as underdogs, passing responsibility for controlling the race to likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"We certainly don’t go in as the favourites for the general classification. Even though we've had a couple of big names pull out, it's still the best field ever assembled. It's easier to list who's not at the Giro than who is, so it's an all-star cast," White said. "It will be Adam's first Giro d'Italia and it continues his learning process which means we can approach it in a different mind set. I think winning the white jersey and a top-10 finish are very achievable goals for him to have.

"Carlos (Verona) is going to be crucial and Ruben (Plaza) has recovered from surgery in the off season to be there to offer guidance and experience. He was very reliable with Esteban last year, so we would expect to see the same again."

Supporting Ewan in the sprints will be fellow young Australian Alexander Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, veteran Svein Tuft and trusted lead out man Luka Mezgec.

"Alex and Luka Mezgec are there specifically for the finals with Caleb and then we have versatility of Michael Hepburn and Chris Juul-Jensen and strength and power of Svein Tuft to work across both ambitions," White explained.

"This is Alex's first full year will a 100 per cent road focus and we have been really impressed with his commitment and performances so quickly. He is someone we believe in and know he is ready to step up for his first Grand Tour.

"In Caleb's second Giro we can really target winning a stage when the opportunities arise and that will start on stage one with the Maglia Rosa the bonus for the winner."

Orica-Scott for the Giro d'Italia: Adam Yates, Caleb Ewan, Alexander Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, Chris Juul-Jensen, Luka Mezgec, Ruben Plaza, Svein Tuft and Carlos Verona.

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