Nine riders in hunt for stage wins in July
The Orica-GreenEdge team has chosen nine riders with the goal of netting stage wins to the Tour de France, rather than invest in a focus on the overall classification, the team announced today.
An obvious focus for the team will be the bunch sprints, where Matthew Goss will be the protected sprinter. He will be aided by Baden Cooke, Brett Lancaster, Daryl Impey, Michael Albasini, Pieter Weening, Sebastian Langeveld, Simon Gerrans and Stuart O'Grady.
"It was difficult to select the final nine," said Sports Director Matt White. "We have more than nine riders that are ready for the Tour de France. It's a good problem to have. When picking the team, we have to identify the team goals and pick the best riders to achieve those goals over the three weeks. I'm confident with the selection we've made that we can meet the objectives we set for July."
Rather than try for a high overall classification, White says the team was picked to win stages. "We have a lot of opportunists in the team of nine. We've said from the start that the overall is not a goal. We're on the hunt for stage wins, and we have a lot of winners in those eight other riders."
Another top pick for stage wins is Albasini, who already has three stage wins (two at Volta a Catalunya and one in Tour de Suisse), an overall race victory in Catalunya and second-place at Flèche Wallone under his belt this year, as well a stage of the 2011 Vuelta a España in his palmares.
"Michael is having the best season of his 11-year career," said White. "We've seen his aggressive style of racing net him stage wins in Spain and Switzerland and the overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya. Michael will contribute to the goals we've set for Matt Goss and take his own chances to win stages on various terrains."
The most experienced rider on the team is O'Grady, who will be toeing the line at his 16th Tour this year. As road captain, he will make sure the team is squared away tactically, and may try to add another stage to his list of results. O'Grady spent six days in the race lead in the 2001 Tour and three in the 1998 edition.
"We're really proud to make our debut in the biggest race in the world with an Australian team," said General Manager Shayne Bannan. "It's has been an incredible journey for us so far thanks to the vision of the Ryan family, all of our dedicated sponsors, and the hard work shown by our staff and riders. We're obviously humble, as this is our first Tour de France, but we all have a good feeling of confidence about our chances to make our mark in the race."
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