With illness decimating Orica-Scott's Tirreno-Adriatico squad, Michael Hepburn ensured the team finished on a high as placed third in the final day time trial. BMC's Rohan Dennis won the stage with Nairo Quintana sealing his second career win at the Italian WorldTour stage race.
The former Australian time trial champion was one just three riders from the Australian team to start the 10km test against the clock. Hepburn rocketed into third place for his best result yet in an European time trial, pleasing sport director Matt White.
Luka Mezgec and Daryl Impey were the other two Orica-Scott riders to finish the race, finishing the time trial in 91st and 32nd position respectively.
"It was certainly a good way to end the race," said White. “Michael produced a great ride, maybe the best time trial he has ever ridden and was very close to the stage win. He is in good shape at the moment and he is going up another level on the road, which is good for the team and positive for the rest of the season."
The team lost Adam Yates to illness when the Brit was sitting second overall after the queen stage of the race. While Caleb Ewan's race was over before it ever got started due to a stage 2 crash, robbing the team of any chance to challenge in the sprints after the Australian impressed in Abu Dhabi.
The same virus which took down Yates also got the better of Roger Kluge, Roman Kreuziger and Luke Durbridge to ensure the team was well short of riders in the closing days.
"Obviously the race didn't go entirely to plan for us. But, we are powerless to change that. Aside from Caleb's crash, it would be fair to say that a virus ripped through the team and along with it our objectives for the race," White said.
"Adam was in a great position, riding very well and deserved a place on the podium. It is what it is, of course, it's a shame that our sprint train didn't get more of a chance to ride together, but the early season signs have still been positive."
White added that he hopes Hepburn, Daryl Impey and Luka Mezgec can avoid the 'Tirreno virus' and will be good to go for the crucial upcoming classics period. Starting Saturday at Milan-San Remo through to Paris-Roubaix where Orica-Scott will start with defending champion Mat Hayman.
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