Cameron Meyer will lead a powerful six-man team at next year's Le Tour de Langkawi after race organisers announced the addition of the Australian squad to the list of 22 invited teams. Orica-GreenEdge is the third ProTeam to sign-up after Astana and Garmin-Sharp confirmed its participation in the race running from 21 February-2 March.
Orica-GreenEdge team manager Shayne Bannan is no stranger to the Tour de Langkawi. The former high-performance director of the Australian Institute of Sport was the director sportif for the Australian national team during the 1998 edition.
"That's where our connection with the Mapei team and their training center in Italy started," said Bannan.
"Our common history is a pretty long one," he added.
One of the team's standout riders from 2012 Luke Durbridge, will no doubt use the 1,467.9km tour to build his condition for a big season in Europe. Next year’s edition has dropped the individual time trial in favour of a 162.7km opening stage which otherwise would have been perfect for the time trial specialist. The team’s second-youngest rider Durbridge is hoping to start his first grand tour next year and Langkawi should be ideal preparation for what may be a call-up for the Giro d’Italia.
New Zealand’s Sam Bewley is also included in the line-up. Bewley officially signed with the ProTeam after the retirement of Robbie McEwen in late May this year and will enter his fourth season at the WorldTour level. The 25-year-old won the bronze medal in the team pursuit at the London Olympic Games and will be a valuable worker for the team in what will be his first full year with Orica-GreenEdge.
Rounding out the squad will be Aidis Kruopis from Lithuania and the Dutchman Pieter Weening. Kruopis is one of the team’s upcoming sprinters who demonstrated his bunch speed by winning a stage of the Tour of Poland earlier in the year and took two stage wins at the Tour du Poitou Charentes - while his teammate Durbridge won the overall classification.
Weening is a respected climber and depending on his condition in the early part of the year, could be a contender on the stage to Genting Highlands. The experienced rider from the Netherlands had spent 10 years with the Rabobank outfit, having graduated from the development Continental team, before joining Orica-GreenEdge in 2012. Weening's most recent victory was on Stage 5 at last year's Giro before donning the leader's jersey for four days.
"As the first ProTeam from Oceania, they perfectly fit into our event," said Tour CEO Emir Abdul Jalal. "We understand that they won’t only come to participate but they are putting together a strong team for winning the overall classification and a few stages."