Team time trial first goal
For Orica-GreenEdge a job well done at Tirreno-Adriatico would be a "strong performance" in its ‘pet event,' the team time trial, support for Ivan Santaromita on the general classification all while honing form for the Spring Classics. The team for the Italian WorldTour event contains several strong time trialists and will be out to emulate their 2012 effort when the Australians won the nine-man race against the clock.
Sport Director Matt White told the GreenEdge website about the ambitions the squad has for the opening stage of 'The Race of the Two Seas.'
"Stage one will be the most important stage for us. It is the team time trial, and this is where we hope to shine. There won't be many team time trial opportunities before the World Championships – the Giro d'Italia and maybe Eneco Tour – so this will be a good early season test for us," White said.
With the start of Milan-San Remo just days after the conclusion of the eight day tour, Tirreno will reveal who is on form for the first major classic of the season as White revealed that he is yet to make up his mind over who will take part of La Primavera.
While the team won't be targeting any of the sprint stages, White stated that Stage 1 wouldn't offer "much for us" and only if GreenEdge holds the blue Classifica generale jersey would they work to hold it. With the slight increase to the finish line the next day, White suggested that if either of Daryl Impey or Simon Clarke were feeling good, it could be a good day at the office.
Clarke won his first overall race as a pro at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in February and recently placed fourth at GP Camaiore.
"Stage four is the longest and hardest of the tour. Here is where the GC riders will come to the head of the race and show their cards. There will likely be a lot of damage done to the peloton by the end of the day," White said.
Backing up the next day will be tough as White explained with the Muro di Guardiagrele was sure to shake up the GC.
"Stage five will be the second stage in the Apennines. The opening 150 kilometres trend downwards before the guys hit the painful climbs that characterise this stage. The day includes the steepest road in Italy, the Muro di Guardiagrele, a 800 metre, 25% wall that will separate the men from the boys."
With a time trial to finish the race, Michael Hepburn as Australian national ITT champion will be looking for the win as will several of his teammates but White expected the day to be one for the GC men.
"It's nine kilometres out and back. Here we can expect any combination of an in-form Svein [Tuft], Heppy, [Luke] Durbo and Cam [Meyer] to be inside the top ten.
"The time trials will be key for the overall. They're short but if you give away 30 seconds or 40 seconds in the team time trial and another 15 seconds or 20 seconds in the individual time trial, that's the GC right there. With only two crucial stages for the climbers, I think the time trials are going to make the difference of who finishes on the podium and who just misses out."
With a change in the Paris-Nice parcours to make it more of a race for the puncheur, White added that the GC battle at Tirreno was sure to be intensified as a result.
"Overall, a lot of the GC guys will be at Tirreno this year. In the past, they usually go to Paris-Nice but with the French tour's unusual format this year, more have opted for Tirreno because of its time trials and summit finishes.
"We will see the real crème de la crème of GC riders battle it out over the weekend."
Orica-GreenEdge squad for Tirreno: Cam Meyer, Daryl Impey, Ivan Santaromita, Jens Mouris, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Svein Tuft and Simon Clarke.
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