Matt White has told Cyclingnews that there will be a few surprises in Orica-GreenEdge’s nine-man roster for the Tour de France. The final selection has been made internally but a public announcement will be issued at the start of next week.
It’s expected that Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey – who both wore the maillot jaune in 2013 – will form the core of the team with Michael Matthews set to make his Tour debut after a stage-winning first outing at the Giro d’Italia in May.
Matt Goss is expected to miss out on a slot after his crash at the Tour de Suisse and a lack of results this season. With White confirming to Cyclingnews that the team will target stage wins over a GC aim, the team manager has a number of options to pick from.
White oversaw the team’s successful Tour in 2013 which saw them win the team time trial and hold the yellow jersey with Gerrans and Impey pulling on the leader’s jersey. At the Giro d’Italia, White and his team copied that blueprint with an early lead in the race courtesy of Svein Tuft before Michael Matthews pulled on the maglia rosa and won an individual stage to Montecassino. Although the team suffered badly in the
second and third weeks in Italy, White is hoping that the Giro confidence can transfer with the team as they head to the Grand Depart in Leeds.
The team will be spearheaded by Gerrans. The Australian national road champion won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the spring and he is one of a cluster of riders who suit the hilly stage between York and Sheffield on the second day of the Tour.
“He’s in good shape and he’s ready to go. In the last couple of years when he’s had a target to aim for he’s been on song near on every time," White told Cyclingnews.
“We’re not going to the Tour with a GC rider or with a sprinter for the flat stages. The goal is to win a stage and we’ve pinpointed a number of stages where we think that we can do that. Certainly Simon is a guy who features amongst others for our targets in the Tour.”
“It’s no secret that we’re targeting stage 2. Everyone is already talking up their chance if they have riders who can ride well in the Ardennes and obviously Simon is one of those guys. From stage 8 onwards we have a number of other cards to play.”
It’s expected that Matt Hayman will also be named in his first Tour selection for the team at the ripe age of 36. However what’s currently uncertain is whether White will pick any of his neo-pro riders. The Yates brothers, Adam and Simon, have been in form all season and although Esteban Chaves is technically not a first-year professional, this is the Colombian’s first year at the World Tour level. All three riders could potentially make the team.
The search for a GC rider
In recent weeks the Australian WorldTour team has been linked with a number of possible signings. Although the squad has GC potential in three-week races for the mid to long-term future, they lack a genuine contender for the short term. Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins have both been mentioned in the press but Cyclingnews understands that the trail has gone cold on both fronts.
Team owner Gerry Ryan has publicly stated that Beklin’s Wilco Kelderman is one of his top targets. The Dutchman is out of contract at the end of the season with his current team’s future also uncertain. A number of teams have enquired about his services for next year. White would only confirm that GreenEdge were “definitely interested” in signing the rider, who has shown in the last two editions of the Giro d’Italia that he is ready to lead a team and the biggest races on the calendar.
However White added that although the team had the resources to recruit a world class GC rider, they were also set on developing their current crop of talent.
“If the right person is available then we’re ready to go but I want to stress that we’ve got some young GC talents in our roster already,” he told Cyclingnews.
“Are they ready to ride GC at this year's Tour, no, but in a few years time, yes, they are. You can’t expect 21 or 23 year olds to pop up in the biggest race and take on so much pressure. But as we have seen, the Yates brothers have developed at an incredible rate and Esteban has also moved on more than we could have asked and I’m expecting more from him in the second part of the season as well.
“Yes, we’re looking at strengthening the team but we’re also about nurturing the super talent that we’ve already brought on. We have some very special riders and it's a priority that we want to see them develop at a speed that works for them”