Orica-GreenEdge put together a roster that was hand picked to win the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday, however, their chances of landing the stage win and the first leader's jersey were diminished when bad weather forced race organisers to change stage 1's 22.7km team time trial to a 5.7km individual time trial instead.
"I'm trying to find a positive out of this situation," Orica-GreenEdge director Matt White told Cyclingnews. "It is what it is but it's quite disappointing for us.
"This effects our team more than any other team here because we brought a team to win the team time trial. It's definitely a blow to us because it's a stage win at a very important race that we're not going to have a chance to try and win now."
Orica-GreenEdge was second in the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico last year to Omega Pharma-QuickStep. This year they selected a series of team time trial specialists for the seven-day race including Svein Tuft, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Jens Mouris and Ivan Santaromita. The team will also include Magnus Cort, Mathew Hayman and then Adam Yates, who is their best shot for a top place in the overall classification.
White also noted how the change from a team time trial to a shorter individual time trial effects Yates' chances in the overall classification.
"Our GC rider Adam Yates is not an individual time triallist," he said. "We were going to be giving him a really good head start with a really competitive team time trial and now he is probably going to lose time in the prologue."
Although it was tough for White to find the silver lining in this situation, he did note that riders like Tuft, Durbridge and Hepburn are capable of giving good performances in the individual time trial and that, overall, this year's Tirreno-Adriatico parcours offers good training for the team's next target at Milan-San Remo.
"The only good thing for us, is that we do have a few good individual time triallists here and this race is also a very nice way to prepare for Milan-San Remo."
Tuft turns attention to Giro d'Italia team time trial
Tuft expressed his excitement for Tirreno-Adriatico's original team time trial course in an interview with Cyclingnews before the organisers altered the stage. He said that his team had prepared specifically to win the event with a core group of team time triallists that Orica-GreenEdge brings to contest the most important events throughout the season.
"We have a core group of guys on our team that do Worlds every year and are also brought in for the really important team time trials during the year," Tuft said. "We’ll have quite a few of those guys coming to Tirreno from that crew.
"We've spent more time drilling that stuff… we've really done the work. We are coming in with a nice approach because we know we have a strong team for the team time trial but we're not over stressing about it. Everyone is drilled, everyone knows what to do. It's the beginning of the year so it's an important way for us to set the tone for the season. It's an important one for us."
Orica-GreenEdge's team time trialling riders will now shift their focus to the Giro d'Italia, which starts with a 17.6km team time trial from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo on May 9. Last year, on his birthday,Tuft was apart of the team that won the opening team time trial at the Italian Grand Tour and he took the first leader's jersey, something that he is hoping to do again.
"For me, it will be really hard to top that," Tuft told Cyclingnews. "The start of the Giro lands on my birthday again, May 9, believe it or not. Of course, as a team, we will want to win that again. We have a team that is really built around that and we always go to win. That team time trial is a really big goal."
White said that Tirreno-Adriatico's team time trial was also meant to be a good preparation for the Tour de France, where they also won the team time trial two years ago, and at the World Championships in Richmond.
"Tirreno-Adriatico was going to be a great opportunity for us to practice our team time trialling," White said. "A lot of the guys we have here were also going to be at the Giro d’Italia and we also wanted to test one or two guys here for the Tour de France, which is a very important team time trial as well. It's a disappointment."