Orica-GreenEdge have announced the contract renewals of Mitchell Docker and Damien Howson. Docker has signed on for a further two seasons having ridden with the team since its inaugural 2012 season while Howson, who joined the team from 2014 has inked a one-year extension.
"Mitch is a crucial around our sprinters and our Classics group – they are the two areas that are most important.He will have more responsibility over the next two years now he is starting to be one of the elder statesmen of the team, sport director Matt White said of Docker. "We have very young sprinters, particularly Caleb Ewan, and we saw during the Vuelta how crucial Mitch was to Caleb's [Ewan] success there."
White added that Howson's performance on his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana earned the former U23 time trial world champion another season with the squad.
"Damien, who turned 23 this year, has had a pretty normal progression through his first two years as a pro," White said. "He proved at the Vuelta this year that he is up for the standard of the WorldTour and we are going to give him another year to continue that development."
Docker has been one the teams key classics riders during his tenure with Orica-GreenEdge having ridden both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on each occasion since 2009 besides the 2012 season with 15th at the 2011 edition of the 'hell of the north' his best result yet. The 29-year-old explained the team environment has been crucial in his development as a rider and is looking forward to continuing that progression over the next two seasons.
"Over the past four years Orica-GreenEdge has given me the confidence to develop myself as a key lead out man and to continue to explore and develop my Classics ambitions," Docker said. "I hope the next two years will continue to see improvement in both of those roles as well as more time to learn from the experience of our team captains, like Matt Hayman, to take the next step.”
"The atmosphere, with the competitive yet free and easy-going Australian mentality combined with a nice mix of straight European approach, makes this team a fun and successful environment to work and spend time in."
A time trial specialist, Howson was third at the 2014 Australian national titles, the 23-year-old notched his best result in the WorldTour when he finished fourth against the clock at the Tour de Pologne in September and believes he can build on such a result next season.
"The team has looked after me really well for the first two years of my professional career and it’s an honour to stay for another year and be able to see further progression," said Howson who also finished fifth overall at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in February. "I think I have coped with the step up (from under-23) quite well and I finished my first Grand Tour this year which was another little milestone that I have been able to complete."
"I feel I am constantly taking steps forward in the sport and I think three years as a professional is probably an optimum time frame to see yourself at the pointy end of races - whether that is helping the leaders further into races or getting a few results for myself, that’s something I can target next year."
Orica-GreenEdge have also extended the contracts of Adam Yates, Simon Yates, Damien Howson, Michael Hepburn, Svein Tuft, Esteban Chaves, Michael Albasini, Christian Meier, Sam Bewley and Mat Hayman and signed Alex Edmondson (Neo), Jack Haig (Neo), Robert Power (Neo), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Christopher Juul-Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) and Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) from next season.