Weening the man to watch, says White
Orica GreenEdge sports director Matt White has told Cyclingnews that the team's line-up for the Tour de France is far from being settled with three races left to decide the final nine.
"I don't want to speculate on exact numbers but there are a couple of spots," he said ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné which begins Sunday.
Three programs are being run by the team in the lead up to the second grand tour of the season, with performances at the Tour de Suisse and the Tour du Slovenie also being taken into consideration along with how recovery from illnesses and injuries are progressing.
Already believed to be locked in for Orica GreenEdge are Matt Goss, Simon Gerrans, Stuart O'Grady, Pieter Weening, Sebastian Langeveld and Daryl Impey.
While the team is "not expecting much" from Gerrans given the Australian national road champion will be coming off an altitude block, White says that the Dauphiné is an important race for Weening. The Dutchman had been planning to start his season at the Tour of Sardinia having spent much of his pre-season preparation in Australia. The race was cancelled meantime, Weening developed a knee injury pushing his season back a further six weeks. The 31-year-old eventually began racing at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire, a performance that really impressed White.
"It just shows the professionalism of Pieter," he told Cyclingnews. "First race back he helped Luke Durbridge win the tour overall and then did Romandie after that where he was very solid for a guy who had only had four days of competition in his legs."
Weening then went on to the Tour of California, where he finished 10th overall, the best placed rider of Orica GreenEdge, 03:05 behind former teammate Robert Gesink.
Along with Gerrans and Weening, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Leigh Howard, Wes Sulzberger, Travis Meyer and Daniel Teklehaimanot will also be lining up for the team at the Dauphiné.
"The rest of the guys they know that they're not doing the Tour de France but it will play a very important role in their development this year and a big chunk of that group will be heading off to the Vuelta later in the season," White explained. "It's a good test for them. It's a very, very difficult race the Dauphiné but also it's a race where those guys can take opportunities when they arise for stage wins for themselves."