Orica-GreenEdge going into Tirreno-Adriatico with options

Yates and Chaves will try for GC results, while Ewan will get sprint test

Orica-GreenEdge arrive in Italy for Tirreno-Adriatico with two possible GC contenders and a man for the sprints, team director Matt White told Cyclingnews Tuesday.

The race begins Wednesday with a 22.5km team time trial in Lido Di Camaiore on the coast of Tuscany. Although the Australian team took the opening team time trial in 2012, White downplayed their chances for victory on Wednesday.

“It’s been a couple of years since we won it, but it’s a pretty simple team time time trial,” White stold Cyclingnews. “We’ll see how the weather is tomorrow, but if it’s like it was this morning it will be fast on the way out and a bit slower on the way back.

“We’ve got a couple little fellows, Caleb [Ewan], Esteban [Chaves] and Adam [Yates], so it’s certainly not the strongest team we’ve had here for a team time trial, but we’ve obviously got other ambitions during the week with sprint stages and general as well.”

Yates, who finished ninth overall last year behind winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar] after a week of consistent racing, will be looking to improve his result, while Chaves, who has raced three days so far this year, is hoping to build on his 2015 breakout season as he prepares for general classification runs at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

“I think both Adam and Esteban have good form coming in so it will be a good test for them,” White said. “Esteban has also got Catalunya in mind, while Adam is on the first of the races where he’s really keen to impress.”

The race will also be a crucial test for team sprinter Ewan, the 21-year-old phenom who won a stage at last year's Vuelta and added two more WorldTour wins earlier this year at the Santos Tour Down Under but is yet to be regularly tested at the sports' highest level. White said he’ll get a trial by fire this week.

“It is a different step up from Under-23s,” White said of this week’s Italian WorldTour race. “Spring is a very competitive time of year no matter where you’re racing, and he’s got some tough competition to get a stage win here, but we’re going to see how he goes.”

The typically difficult Italian terrain will also provide plenty of challenge for the young fastman.

“They’re not simple flat days, there’s always climbs involved, either on the circuits or during the day, so it’ll be a test,” White said. “Also the distance; we’ve seen that he’s very, very competitive and fast in the three- to four-hour stages, but we’ve got 200-plus K stages here. So it’s going to be a good test for him.”

Before Orica-GreenEdge can try their hand in the sprints or ride for GC results, however, they’ll need to put in a decent ride during Wednesday’s opener. White admitted the team is less well suited for team time trial success than in years past, but he said they’re more balanced as a unit.

“We were pretty top heavy when we first came here in 2012, and now we’re certainly a more balanced team,” he said. “I think we’ll be competitive tomorrow, but we’re certainly not the favourites.”

The director named Astana, BMC Racing, Team Sky, Movistar and Etixx-QuickStep as the favourites, predicting they’d all finish quite close on time.

“It’s the same sort of five teams that are up there all the time in these sort of disciplines,” White said. “I think if you get to tomorrow and you have a team that is on a really good day, they can take some serious time. It might be 20 seconds, but 20 seconds here on general classification could be the difference between winning and not in this race.

“I think you could throw a blanket on the first five teams, but if a team is on a really super day it can make a difference.”

The 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico route covers a total of 1,020km over seven stages from the Tyrrhenian Sea on the West coast across to the Adriatic on the East. Now in its 51st edition, the race has become a staple early season test for teams with Grand Tour ambitions.

Orica-GreenEdge roster for Tirreno-Adriatico: Esteban Chaves, Luke Durbridge, Caleb Ewan, Chris Juul-Jensen, Jens Keukeleire Luka Mezgec, Svein Tuft, Adam Yates.

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