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Australians at the 2016 Tour de France

Since Phil Anderson's breakthrough Tour de France in 1981 when he became the first non-European to wear the yellow jersey, Australians have regularly animated the race and made numerous visits to the podium. Cadel Evans' 2011 overall victory was obvious highlight for Australians, while the creation of the Australian WorldTour outfit Orica-GreenEdge has given the fans a fully fledged team, rather than individual riders, to cheer on during the late night broadcasts.

Australian riders have won at least won stage all but six occasions since 1996 with the class of 2016 offering several options to continue the good run. In recent years, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Rohan Dennis (BMC) have both won stages and wore the yellow jersey while Michael Rogers enjoyed a stage win in 2014.

Following the retirement of Evans early-last year, the inventible search for a successor has settled on Richie Porte (BMC) for the coming years with the 30-year-old to co-lead a team at the Tour for the first time in his career. While Porte is the Australian best placed for a tilt at the general classification in 2016, there are several of his compatriots more than capable of claiming stage wins.

Ahead of the 103rd Tour, Cyclingnews has cast its eyes over the eight Australian riders who are spread across four different teams.

Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) 5 previous appearances (2011-), best finish 19th in 2013
Having helped Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013 and 2015 to overall Tour victory, Porte will start the race as a team leader in for the first time in his career. A proven winner of WorldTour one-week stage races, it's yet to go right for Porte in the three-week races so far but the 30-year-old enters the race after a promising Criterium du Dauphine. in which he finished fourth.

Porte made the move from Sky to BMC for 2016 to pursue his personal ambitions at the Tour where he will co-lead the team with Tejay van Garderen. Porte's 2016 season has been one of consistency for the Tasmanian with top-four finishes at the Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphine.

What to expect? A top-ten finish would be a success for Porte with anything more a solid foundation for the year's to come. A stage win in the mountains could be on the cards as well but that appears more dependent on how the race plays out the willingness of the peloton to let the breakaway stay away.

Seventh place on his grand tour debut in the 2010 Giro d'Italia remains Porte's best result in a three-week race. Considering he's been part of Sky's three Tour wins, Porte knows how to arrive in Paris wearing yellow but will need to avoid a jour sans that has characterised his previous grand tours to leave his mark on the race.

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) 2 previous appearances (2013, 2015), 1 stage win

Last year's stage 1 winner and Australian time trial winner Rohan Dennis isn't as suited to the 2016 parcours as he was to last year's route but the race is nevertheless an important component in his transition to becoming a general classification rider. Dennis will have one eye on the Rio Olympic time trial on August 10 with the stage 13 time trial from Bourg-Saint-Andéol to La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc his best opportunity for success.

What to expect? With Rio his focus, Dennis will be an important domestique for BMC's dual-pronged attack of Porte and van Garderen. The two time trials of the race aren't particularly suited to Dennis but will provide a good hit out in preparation for Rio.

Dennis was an aggressor on the Champs-Élysées last year as he finished 101st overall. While every rider starts the Tour with the ambition of making it to Paris, Dennis could be an early withdrawal to ensure he 100% prepared and ready for the Rio time trial.

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) 1 previous appearance (2015)

Michael Matthews' first Tour appearance, one year from crashing out on the eve of 2014 edition, was a painful one as a high speed crash on stage 3 left him with a broken rib. Matthews made one appearance on the podium as he was awarded the most combative prize on stage 8 but it was his least successful grand tour from four previous starts.

While Matthews' 2016 season is yet to reach the heights of his 2015 season, the 25-year-old enjoyed two stage wins at Paris-Nice and an extended stay in yellow while more recently had three top-ten results in the Tour de Suisse to suggest he is approaching the Tour in good condition. Orica-GreenEdge are aiming for stage wins at the Tour this year with Matthews as one of its protected riders and well within shot to meet the teams aims

What to expect? A stage winner at his two Vuelta a Espana, and Giro appearance, along with stints in both leader's jerseys, Matthews is a proven winner in three-week races but it's yet to go right at the Tour. Orica-GreenEdge. With several stages in the opening week suited to his characteristics, Matthews should be in contention for a victory but will need to be clear with Gerrans who is targeting which stage. Consistent placings could also see Matthews spend some time in the green points jersey.

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) 10 previous appearances (2005-2008, 2010-), 2 stage wins, two days in yellow

A two-time stage winner and former yellow jersey wearer, Simon Gerrans endured a miserable 2015 season that included him crashing out of the Tour de France with a broken wrist. Gerrans, 36, was back to his best earlier this season as he won his fourth Tour Down Under title but is yet to open his 2016 European account.

Over the last few seasons Gerrans has become adept at creating and executing a plan as his wins at Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastogne-Leige, Canadian WorldTour races and the Tour attest to.

What to expect? Sharing the leadership with Matthews, Gerrans will be keen for an early stage win to establish himself at the top of the Orica-GreenEdge hierarchy. Success in the first week could see Gerrans enjoy a second stint in the yellow jersey

Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) 7 previous appearances (2008-2012, 2014-)

One of the premier lead-out men in the business, Mark Renshaw will again be a key rider for Mark Cavendish's bid to add to his 26 stage wins. The 33-year-old has been involved in some of Cavendish's most memorable stage wins and the duo will been to replicate their past triumphs.

Dimension Data's Renshaw has already helped Cavendish to stage wins at the Tour of Qatar, Tour of Croatia and the Tour of California in 2016.

What to expect? Renshaw will be the final man for Cavendish in the bunch sprints before the 'manx missile' launches his sprint. Cavendish needs two stage wins to tie with Bernard Hinault as the second most successful rider in the Tour's history and Renshaw will be key to him matching the five-time winner.

Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) 6 previous appearances (2008, 2010, 2012-)

Adam Hansen will add to his 14 consecutive grand tours when he lines up for the Tour de France this year. It will be Hansen's seventh start at the Tour having first ridden the French grand tour back in 2008. Fifth place at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey has been the 35-year-old's best personal result so far in 2016 but has been crucial to his Lotto Soudal teammates successes.

What to expect? A breakaway specialist, Hansen will be splitting his time between looking after André Greipel and chasing stage wins. With Giro and Vuelta stage wins to his name, Hansen will be looking to make it grand tour trio this July with the second and third weeks looming as his best bets. The first week will be all about positioning Greipel for the sprints with the German aiming to add to his ten previous wins

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) two previous appearances (2014-)

Former Australian time trial and road race champion Luke Durbridge has been selected for his third Tour to play the role of a domestique. The 25-year-old missed the Giro d'Italia for the first time in three years this year and should arrive fresh in 2016 compared to his first two appearances.

Durbridge will be a key rider in Orica-GreenEdge'’s bid for stage wins with Gerrans, Matthews and Adam Yates, and having placed third in the Tour de Suisse prologue, approaches the race in form.

What to expect? Durbridge could be used for breakaways late in the race but for the early stages of the race he will be looking after Yates and positioning Gerrans and Matthews for stage wins. Durbridge proved in last years Giro, when he finished second to Iljo Keisse, that he can handle a three week race and could be called into action to protect Yates should he be placed within the top-ten when the race hits the Alps.

Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) 1 previous appearance (2014)

At 38, Mat Hayman is one of the oldest riders in the 2016 Tour de France peloton but as his Paris-Roubaix victory demonstrated, also one of the more tactically astute riders. Hayman's Tour debut in 2014 didn't entirely go to plan as he was forced to withdraw on stage 10 to La Planche Des Belles Filles.

Hayman's classics season was almost over before it began when he broke his elbow at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. A month on the home trainer with Zwift followed and ensured that he started the 'Queen of the Classics' with little expectation that played into his hands as he enjoyed the biggest win of his career.

The Roubaix win played its part in Hayman securing a second Tour call up as the team's road captain.

What to expect? Hayman will be on team duty looking after the likes of Gerrans, Matthews and Yates. While the team aren't aiming for GC and therefore won't be requiring Hayman to act as a bodyguard on the flat stages, he will be used to position Gerrans and Matthews for the stages suited to their capabilities. The Canberrean will be making the calls on the road as the captain with his experience key in a relatively young squad.

Hayman will also be determined to finish the Tour and take in the Champs-Élysées for the first time.

Australia's neighbours down under, New Zealand, have three starters for the Tour with representation from George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Greg Henderson (Lotto Soudal), and Shane Archbold (Bora-Argon 18).

For the full 2016 Tour de France start list, click here

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Zeb Woodpower

Zeb Woodpower is the Australian editor at Cyclingnews. Based in Sydney, Zeb provides an Australian perspective on the sport with articles ranging from the local to the global . He joined Cyclingnews in 2013.

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