Team focussing on stage wins and rider development
After a mid-field result in the opening team time trial at the Vuelta a España team director Neil Stephens said his Orica-GreenEdge squad had performed to expectations. The Australian-registered team has achieved two WorldTour TTT wins this season at Tirreno-Adriatico and Eneco Tour however, most of those riders are not racing the Vuelta and as such, the tactics were different compared to aiming for the win.
"We’ve prioritized other goals for this race. Our guys will do their best here, and I imagine we’ll finish around mid-field. Anything more would be a highly successful day for us," said Stephens.
The team finished with five riders and was led across the line by Allan Davis - 33 seconds down on the stage winning team Movistar. The team played it safe along the technical route and took few risks over the 16.5km course. The team’s general classification hopes remained intact with Cameron Meyer crossing the line along with Simon Clarke, Wesley Sulzberger and Daniel Teklehaymanot - who is making his Grand Tour debut along with a number of his teammates.
"We started out well," noted Stephens. "In situations like this, teams can get too eager in the first half. We paced ourselves exactly right, and we were able to carry that pace throughout our effort."
"Obviously, when you’re not up for the stage win, you don’t take any risks. We didn’t blow through the corners. We did what we needed to do to stay safe," said Stephens.
"Daniel's inclusion into our Vuelta squad is a crucial step in his development," explained Stephens. "He has become a smarter and stronger rider throughout this year, and there is no better place for him to test his improvements than at the Tour of Spain. Dan will need to takes notes from his teammates and staff to make it through the three weeks. We're here for him to help him make it to Madrid."
Tomorrow’s relatively flat stage will likely be a day for the team’s sprinter Allan Davis or perhaps Clarke. Davis will look to Mitch Docker and Julian Dean for assistance if it comes down to a bunch sprint.
"If it comes down to a bunch sprint, the finish suits someone like Allan Davis or maybe Simon Clarke. We’re up for the stage win no matter what the scenario."
"Mitch has progressed well during the second half of the season. He will be an important rider in all aspects of our performance, especially in our sprint train," said the team director Stephens.
Dean has made a solid comeback following a number of serious injuries this year and is a trusted man when it comes to a bunch sprint. He will be key in setting up Davis.
"Julian clearly suffered during [Vuelta Ciclista a] Burgos, as did most of the field, and he became reacquainted with what it feels like to suffer to that degree. Julian's a tough rider, and he rides 100 percent for the team. In certain regards, he'll act as team leader on the road during the race," said Stephens.
The is also eager to see how Meyer copes with the final grand tour of the year - as a possible general classification contender. It's a challenge that Meyer has planned for and will have the support of his team in the mountains where possible.
"Cameron can time trial, climb and position himself well in the bunch," said Stephens. "He has many of the qualities we seek in a rider who can perform well on the general classification of a longer stage race. We're looking towards Cameron as our only rider to focus on overall results."
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