Orica sports director still wants Richie Porte as future GC leader
Fresh off the heels of its most successful season to date, Orica-GreenEdge's Matt White feels the third-year UCI World Tour squad could be in for a transition year in 2014. However, according to White, who resumed his role as team sports director in June following a six-month ban after confessing to doping during the majority of his pro cycling career, this might not necessarily mean a reversal of recent good fortunes.
Orica-GreenEdge, in just its second season on the world tour amassed an impressive 33 wins – spread over 16 riders – in 2013, and White explains that those results are both by necessity and by design.
"Last year we had more riders win a race than not," White told Cyclingnews. "Luke Durbridge was our winningest rider with only four wins. Our results say a lot about the depth of our team and the opportunities available across our roster.
"We don't rely on 20 wins from (Peter) Sagan like Cannondale or (André) Greipel like Lotto-Belisol, so we have to spread the wealth evenly."
Earlier in the month, White told Cyclingnews that Orica's designated sprinter Matthew Goss should be challenging Sagan, but now clarifies that the team should target the races Sagan has won to best position Goss and company for the win.
"We cop it a bit for not having a dedicated GC rider," said White. "We are realistic and know going into most tours we're not riding for general classification. We've made no secret that we wanted Richie Porte before he resigned with Team Sky last year and we're still hopeful we can get him in the future, but we've proven with our results that we can win – and win often.
"I believe we are in a bit of a transition period because realistically our sprint group has not worked as well as we would have liked. This is not a knock on our talent, as we firmly believe that while Gossy is never going to outsprint (Mark) Cavendish, (Marcel) Kittel or Greipel, he's proven on the longer races such as Milan San Remo and stages of the Giro d'Italia that he can be quite effective."
White believes that Sagan has proven that the cyclist capable of pushing the most watts at the finish is not always the rider atop the podium. Orica will continue to look for opportunities and take advantage of matchups using an array of established and upcoming stars.
"Gossy is never going to be the guy that wins 10 races in a season, but if we do our job correctly and give him the support he needs, he can win the big races, and we expect him to do just that this year," he said.
But Goss isn't the only rider White anticipates great things from this season. Besides team leaders and 2013 yellow jersey recipients Simon Gerrans (Aus) and Daryl Impey (Rsa), both looking to reclaim national championships in January, Orica is in the midst of a youth movement with eight riders under 23, including the aforementioned Durbridge, as well as former U23 Road Race World Champion, former Rabobank rider and fellow Aussie, Michael Matthews, and the newly signed Yates twins – Simon and Adam.
"I think Durbridge has a big future in a lot of areas," said White. "We will point him at the classics and target one-week stage races as a GC. Matthews reminds me of a young Thor Hushovd. He possesses the skills of a sprinter, he can climb and has proved he can time trial by finishing third at nationals two of the last three years.
"Everyone on this team will get his opportunity, which is why the Yates brothers made the decision to join Orica. And while we may not be able to go head-to-head in pure sprints at the moment, we are excited about Caleb Ewan, who is a promising young prospect that could play a significant role by season's end. In the meantime, we have targeted the races we can win and are going to put a lot of our energy into winning them."