The 2016 road season is just around the corner with Orica-GreenEdge planning to hit the ground running with the Australian racing calendar a primary target for the WorldTour team.
“We start racing on the first of January. It’s important that we hit the ground running but we have an advantage because we’re racing at home and there’s no excuse with our riders having bad winter weather or travel issues,” team director Matt White told Cyclingnews.
“Also, our sponsors want us to be very visible in these races. We don’t have many UCI races here so we have to have a strong presence at home.”
Most rival WorldTour teams use the Australian summer to give young pros an opportunity and to warm up their Classics stars after a brief winter of hibernation. With the racing kicking off on home soil Orica-GreenEdge have to balance the demands of a strong start to the year with the fact that they still have a long season ahead of them.
White believes such a plan can be successful, and has split his squad accordingly with riders such as Michael Matthews skipping the domestic races and being held back until later in the season. Gerrans, who crashed on the eve of the Tour Down Under last year, is set to return, while Caleb Ewan is likely, although not confirmed, to race the Tour Down Under for the first time in Orica-GreenEdge colours.
“Cycling is such a long season now so everyone has a break at some point. We’re talking about ten guys being out here so as long as it’s all structured well it does work for us as a team.
“We have a good idea regarding our Tour Down Under roster and we’ll sit down with these guys and talk with them. We don’t have the official line up yet but it’s safe to assume we’ll run a similar line up to last year.
“Last year, we had Gerrans but he broke is collarbone in the lead up to the race. So we went in with [Daryl] Impey and he had a very solid Down Under but when you’re three weeks out from the first race and have to change leaders you don’t have too many options for selection but the team and Daryl had a super week, just not we wanted from our home race."
While Gerrans is leading the line on the domestic front, Michael Matthews will follow a similar programme to 2015 and build up using a more gradual approach in Europe. The pair failed to race on the same wavelength at the Worlds in Richmond, both riding for themselves rather than the team, but White believes that the pair can race well together. They will divide up the early season races before linking up later in the spring.
“Over the next week's during our two camps we will sit down with all our riders and especially our leaders and have clear goals for next season. Regarding those two, they have a very different start to the season, whereas Simon is hoping to start the season all guns blazing, Michael starts the season considerably later.
“They don’t actually do too much racing with each other in the first part of the season. And that’s because there are so many races in spring that you want to split the calendar with them. We want them both chasing targets.”