Olympic hopefuls round out WorldTour-to-be squad
The new GreenEdge team has completed its 2012 roster with two Australian talents, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn. Durbridge, the Under 23 world time trial champion, and Hepburn, bronze in the same event, also shared in Australia's world title in the team pursuit.
GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan confirmed that the pair would be allowed to pursue their Olympic dreams on the track in addition to their road programme.
"Although we're a road team, part of our mission is to support our riders who have ambitions on the track, particular Australian riders as we head towards next year's London Olympics," Bannan said.
"Luke and Michael will form a critical part of Australia's hopes to win gold in the team pursuit in London and we want to be part of helping them achieve that."
Durbridge has already established himself as a top talent on the road, not only claiming the world time trial title in the espoir ranks, but also winning the prologue in the Olympias Tour and the Chrono Champenois. Hepburn, winner of two stages of the Tour de l'Avenir and a stage of the Tour of Norway is also on track to become one of the peloton's fastest finishers.
"They are both also massive talents on the road and any team would want on their roster so we weren't about to take the risk of giving other teams the chance of signing these guys up before we did."
Both Durbridge and Hepburn are looking forward to learning from the team's experienced professionals, including Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady.
"When you are a junior coming through the ranks your biggest goal is to turn professional and for me to do it after my second year as an under-23 and with such a great team as GreenEdge is unreal," Durbridge said.
"I am really looking forward to learning from the older riders and going in with an open mind and am willing to learn in all areas as a pro on and off the bike."
With the Olympics being his main priority for 2012 Durbridge says he'll be focusing on the track for the first part of the season.
"It will be a big learning curve for me on the road and I want to make the most of riding alongside some of the most experience guys in the professional peloton," said Hepburn.
"It's surreal actually to be riding alongside Baden Cooke, Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen because watching those guys on TV battle it out for the green jersey is what inspired me to get into cycling.
"But I also know some of the guys quite well from the track which should make the whole fitting in process a little easier."
With training and racing focused on their track ambitions for the first half of the season Durbridge and Hepburn won't officially join GreenEdge until 1 February 2012.
"My major goal for next year is the team pursuit at the Olympics," said Durbridge. "I'm hoping to make the starting four in London, so my program will be tailored around that.
"After the Olympics I would love to be a part of the team's time trial world championships, whilst continuing to work on my individual time trial to try and get a start at the worlds for Australia in the near future."
The team also confirmed the signing of Aidis Kruopis. The Lithuanian has produced some impressive results in 2011, as part of the Landbouwkrediet team, including a stage win at the Tour of Belgium and victory in the Schaal Sels, a 1.1 ranked late season Belgian one-day race.
GreenEdge for 2012
Michael Albasini (Sui)
Fumiyuki Bepppu (Jpn)
Jack Bobridge (Aus)
Simon Clarke (Aus)
Baden Cooke (Aus)
Allan Davis (Aus)
Julian Dean (NZ)
Mitchell Docker (Aus)
Luke Durbridge (Aus) (neo)
Simon Gerrans (Aus)
Matt Goss (Aus)
Michael Hepburn (Aus) (neo)
Leigh Howard (Aus)
Daryl Impey (RSA)
Jens Keukeleire (Bel)
Aidis Kruopis (Ltu)
Brett Lancaster (Aus)
Sebastion Langeveld (Ned)
Robbie McEwen (Aus)
Christian Meier (Can)
Cameron Meyer (Aus)
Travis Meyer (Aus)
Jens Mouris (Ned)
Stuart O'Grady (Aus)
Wesley Sulzberger (Aus)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea) (neo)
Svein Tuft (Can)
Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu)
Pieter Weening (Ned)
Matt Wilson (Aus)
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