Orica-GreenEdge is ready to step up and target overall success in a Grand Tour. The Australian team has reiterated it is looking to sign and develop a future Grand Tour winner and is making long-term plans to change its roster to obtain its goal.
Team owner Gerry Ryan heads to Europe today for talks with the team and potential co-sponsors according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian team has already expressed interest in Bradley Wiggins and Ryan revealed that Wilco Kelderman, currently with the Belkin team, is also on their hit list of five riders.
Orica-GreenEdge has won stages at all three Grand Tours and Simon Gerrans won Liege-Bastogne-Liege and wore the yellow jersey in the 2013 Tour de France but the team has never challenged for the overall classification, preferring to concentrate on one-day and shorter stage races. This year the team won three stages at the Giro d'Italia and held the leader's jersey for the first seven stages with sprinter Michael Matthews but ended the race with only two riders due to illness and injury.
Ryan' is planning long term. "Succession planning – who is coming off contract, where we want to be in 2017. We are planning for the next three years,” he told Rupert Guinness of the Smh.com.au.
"If we want to be there in 2016, we probably have got to try and recruit next year a GC [general classification] rider, or we have sit it out and hopefully one of the young kids are going to step up."
"When going after a GC rider, we have to look at a whole different make-up of the team in terms of people who can support him."
The team already has two potential candidates on the team, twin brothers Simon and Adam Yates. But the British riders are only 21 years old and in their first pro year. Ryan has a list of “probably five” riders he is interested in, including Kelderman and Wiggins. Wiggins himself contacted the team’s head sport director Matt White after his apparent fall out with Team Sky.
“Bradley rang Whitey up and had a chat. We haven’t gone out [for him] because he is still under contract," Ryan said.
Orica-GreenEdge has had its eye on Kelderman for several years. The young Dutch rider has shown excellent form this spring, finishing seventh overall in the Giro d’Italia and is currently third in the Criterium du Dauphine.
“Whitey has had him and a few others on the radar over the last year or two. It’s not [based] on one tour,” Ryan explained.