For Orica-GreenEdge, the 2013 Tour de France was the defining moment of their season even if initially it was for all the wrong reasons. The isle of Corsica welcomed the Tour for the first time this year and in doing so, became the last department of France to witness La Grande Boucle. With 10km to go on the first stage, it appeared the grand depart had descended into farce. Wedged under the finish line gantry was the GreenEdge bus, throwing the race into chaos. There were jokes aplenty that this would be the only time the team would cross the line first in July. Such jokes were dead in the water once the race farewelled the island.
Simon Gerrans had been whetting his lips in anticipation of the three days on Corsica and come stage three, notched his second Tour stage win. This began a dream start for the team with two wins on the island, including the bus victory on stage one, but once back on the mainland the dream only got better.
In Nice, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Team Sky who were favourites for the team time trial but it was a plucky GreenEdge which claimed the win by under a second and in doing so catapulted Gerrans into his first yellow jersey and four days of the maillot jaune for the team.
Matt Goss had won a stage at the 2012 Giro d’Italia and Simon Clarke went one better at the Vuelta a España winning the mountains classification and a stage but at the Tour, GreenEdge had been luckless. The first week of the 100th edition of the race was all GreenEdge with stage wins, a combativity prize and the yellow fleece.
While the Tour was the season highlight, GreenEdge had a successful sophomore year as they racked up wins in each month from January to September. Luke Durbridge won both the national time trial and road race to kick things off and while Gerrans may have failed in his defence the Tour Down Under, he did win a stage.
Canadian time trial champion Svein Tuft started his season at the Tour de San Luis and although he would be the lanterne rouge of the Tour, he notched the first international GreenEdge win of the year.
There would be no third straight Milano-San Remo win for the team but the early spring nevertheless brought victories. Spain, France and Italy all bore witness to Leigh Howard, Michael Albasini and Matthew Goss crossing the line first while Christian Meier took home a few jerseys. Gerrans and Daryl Impey added to the win sheet with consecutive stages at the Tour of the Basque Country in April. Impey wasn’t satisfied with one win so went to the Bayern-Rundfahrt in May and came home with another win.
In the lead up to the Tour with the nine-man squad yet to be finalised, Cameron Meyer stunned the peloton at the Tour de Suisse, taking stage one and the leader's jersey to guarantee his place on the start line in Corsica. Over in Slovenia, Tuft and Brett Lancaster took home stages as they also made their place in the Tour squad certain.
The success of GreenEdge's season was the spread of winners with 16 different riders standing atop the podium. While riders are more than happy to work when called upon, to drop back to the team car for bidons or boss the peloton, at GreenEdge they appear do so knowing they will be offered the same help and have an opportunity for personal glory.
One of the more uplifting stories this year, and the epitome of the team culture, was the selfless act by Gerrans to give his roommate Impey the yellow jersey. Few would have picked Impey as the first African to wear the jersey and there is hardly a more effusive act possible in cycling than Gerrans' who has changed his mate’s life and given Impey's newborn a nice fluffy lion.
An area where the team may look to improve is in performing at a higher level in overall classifications as Pieter Weening was the only rider to win a race outright which was the Tour de Pologne.
There was also an absence of team classification victories in 2013. At the world championships, GreenEdge claimed silver in the team time trial losing by under a second to Omega Pharma-Quick Step in a reversal of positions at the Tour but there was too little team success.
In the final months of the season Daniel Teklehaymanot claimed his maiden European win at the Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia and Jens Keukeleire won two stages of the Vuelta a Burgos. Tuft and Luke Durbridge defended their title at the Duo Normond and in doing so, set a new time record.
It was the exploits of Michael Matthews however that were the most exciting post-July. With a misfiring Goss, Matthews suggested that in 2014 he may well be the top sprinter on the books.
Matthews claimed two stages and the sprints classification at the Tour of Utah as he warmed up for the final Grand Tour of 2014. In Spain the team was chasing stage victories and the man known as 'Bling' didn't disappoint by winning two of them.
A blight on the season was the admission by Stuart O'Grady that he took EPO prior to the 1998 Tour de France which came after the 'Vance Review', an external review into the team and its practices following the announcement by Matt White that he doped throughout his riding career. White received a six-month ban and was reinstated in time for the Tour.
What to expect in 2014: The spread of winners is likely to continue next season with an emphasis on climbing and overall victories. With Esteban Chaves and Ivan Santaromita on board, the team will have a little more firepower. With the loss of some older heads, it will be a rather young team and some riders will need to step up to support their teammates. There will be big expectations on the team in 2014 starting from the get go with the Australian nationals in the second week of January. They will face fierce competition from Drapac in the road race with both teams keen to show off the green and gold jersey for the year.
A good performance at the nationals followed by success at the Tour down Under and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour should provide a good platform for success in 2014.
Best signing: The signings of the Yates twins, Adam and Simon, Esteban Chaves and Ivan Santaromita will add quality and depth to the team but undoubtedly, it is the acquisition of Caleb Ewan that is the most mouth-watering. In three criterium races over the last fortnight, Ewan has raced in the GreenEdge colours recording two wins and a close second. While he will join as a stagiaire and then as a pro in 2015, the diminutive rider has shown no sign of reticence when up against seasoned professionals.
The acquisition of Santaromita and Chaves will improve the team’s results on mountainous parcours and Chaves as a past winner of the Tour de l'Avenir will join with expectations of numerous win. Chaves sustained serious injuries in February of this year with facial and torso fractures and abrasions but should be ready and fit for a Grand Tour debut in 2014.
Biggest loss: For a team which has targeted the Classics, GreenEdge has yet to taste any great success and with Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld moving across to Garmin he is a big loss. As a result leadership for the cobbles is up for grabs and Mat Hayman could step into the role but he isn’t an improvement on the Dutchman who was seventh at Paris-Roubaix and tenth at the Tour of Flanders.
While Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke and Allan Davis weren't prolific winners for the team, their experience will be a big loss as mentors for a young squad in 2014. Their tactical nous would have helped the Yates twins and Damien Howson in particular, and riders such as Mitch Docker and Leigh Howard will need to step up and offer support and guidance earlier in their careers than they would have expected.
Man to watch: Having spent a full month of the bike for the first time since turning pro, Simon Gerrans is recovered from his hip injury that he sustained at the Vuelta and is looking to dominate the Australian summer. Also targeting the Tour again in 2014, Gerrans, as an elder statesman in the team, will be looking to lead the team by example and perhaps an Ardennes Classic will finally be his. Having worn the maillot jaune, Gerrans is looking to add a rainbow jersey to his wardrobe and may just do so in 2014.
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