Australian WorldTour team Orica-BikeExchange have confirmed a 26-rider roster for the 2017 season. Roman Kreuziger and Roger Kluge are the only new signings for the upcoming season, although Carlos Verona joined the team in July and Cheung King-Lok was signed in March.
The 2016 season was Orica-BikeExchange's most successful yet with Esteban Chaves finishing on the podium at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, Adam Yates winning the best young rider classification at the Tour de France and finishing fourth, and monument victories at Paris-Roubaix with Mat Hayman and Il Lombardia with Chaves.
"With only two and a half changes (including Carlos Verona who joined mid-2016) to our roster next year the DNA and group is very similar to the roster that achieved so much in 2016," director sportif Matt White said. "This is an exciting prospect but something we need to approach with caution to ensure that we don't let any complacency slip into our processes."
While there are few incoming riders, Michael Hepburn and Alexander Edmondson are likely to be fully committed to the road next season, having focused on the team pursuit at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 where they helped Australia to the silver medal. Rob Power is also likely to race a full season, having made his comeback from injury late in the season.
Czech national champion Kreuziger has been brought onboard to strengthen the general classification squad, while Kluge will be a key rider in the lead-out for Caleb Ewan.
"Our additions each possess specialties in certain areas that we need to bolster our existing team, enabling us to immediately improve our performance and growing ambitions," White added.
With several young riders enjoying their best season to date in the WorldTour, White believes the squad can be even better in 2017.
"We had breakout years from Magnus Cort, Jens Keukeleire, Esteban Chaves and Simon and Adam Yates. We can expect even more progression from this crew of developing riders," he said. "And as always, our older experienced campaigners never cease to surprise us along the journey of the season which turns out to be a very long and grueling campaign.
"We can be very excited about approaching the coming season."
Having made the podium at two of the three grand tours and finished fourth at the Tour, White explained that the general classification is the aim at all three grand tours in 2017.
"We want consistency and that is needed from everyone," White added of Orica-BikeExchange's aims. "The idea may sound simple but in such a dynamic world which makes up our sport it’s a challenge to achieve. We will approach all three Grand Tour’s with general classification ambitions which is a first for the organisation."
The 2017 season will start on home soil for Orica-BikeExchange at the Australian national championships, followed by the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans great Ocean Road Race WorldTour events in January with a likely return to the Herald Sun Tour in early-February before its European campaign commences.
"We are looking at starting off our season with a bang come January at our home WorldTour events and then aiming to take winning opportunities regularly throughout the season whilst developing the immense talent we have within our roster," White explained.
Orica-BikeExchange for the 2017 season: Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Sam Bewley (New Zealand), Esteban Chaves (Colombia), Magnus Cort (Denmark), Mitch Docker (Australia), Luke Durbridge (Australia), Alexander Edmondson (Australia), Caleb Ewan (Australia), Simon Gerrans (Australia), Jack Haig (Australia), Mathew Hayman (Australia), Michael Hepburn (Australia), Damien Howson (Australia), Daryl Impey (South Africa), Chris Juul-Jensen (Denmark), Jens Keukeleire (Belgium), Cheung King-Lok (Hong Kong), Roger Kluge (Germany), Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic), Luka Mezgec (Slovenia), Ruben Plaza (Spain),
Robert Power (Australia), Svein Tuft (Canada), Carlos Verona (Spain), Adam Yates (Great Britain) and Simon Yates (Great Britain)