Orica-BikeExchange have announced its eight-rider team for the 2016 Tour of Poland with Caleb Ewan for the sprints and Simon Yates, on his return from a doping suspension, to challenge for the overall. The WorldTour race starts on Tuesday July 12 with an opening 138km stage from Radzymin to Warszawa expected to finish in a bunch sprint.
Ewan made his debut at the race last year, finishing runner-up to Marcel Kittel on the first stage then won the bunch sprit on stage 4 behind the three-rider breakaway and will be aiming for his first win on European soil in 2016. The Australian, who won two stages of the Tour Down Under, was top-ten on four occasions at the Giro d'Italia in May and starts the race after a one month break.
"There's going to be long stages which is typical in Poland," said sport director for the race, Dave Mcpartland. "The first two are pretty short and look very much like they will be sprint stages. The big goal for us is to deliver Caleb to a stage win. Then the two of the longest stages could potentially be sprints, however there are climbs near the final. Obviously we have Caleb for the sprints but also Jens Keukeleire is another option depending on the stage. It's good to be going into the race with these different options.
Having served his four-month 'non-intentional' doping ban, Simon Yates makes his first appearance since abandoning the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in April and will be aiming for a high overall result.
"The mountain stages should be good for Yates, we will have to see how he is after coming back after a period of no racing but he will have strong support," Mcpartland said. "It will be also be a good chance to test out Jack Haig and he will be the key support for Yates."
While the majority of the squad is dedicated for Ewan sprint train with the 21-year-old to be supported by Sam Bewley, Mitch Docker, Luka Mezgec and Jens Keukeleire, Jack Haig is the sole climbing support for Yates but Mcpartland is expecting good things after his second place overall at the Tour de Slovénie.
"The best climbers are at the Tour de France right now, so it's a good opportunity, a good measuring stick for Jack in a WorldTour race to see were his is at. I expect him to be right up there with Yates in the finals," he said.
Canadian Svein Tuft rounds out the squad as the team captain and will have his opportunity for personal success in the final day 25km time trial around Kraków.
Orica-BikeExchange for the 2016 Tour of Poland: Sam Bewley, Mitch Docker, Caleb Ewan, Jack Haig, Jens Keukeleire, Luka Mezgec, Svein Tuft and Simon Yates.