Orica-GreenEdge will target the overall classification at the Giro d’Italia for the first time with Esteban Chaves at the helm. The team will also have another young prospect for stage victories in the sprinter Caleb Ewan.
The Giro d’Italia will be Chaves’ second after making his debut at last year’s race. The Colombian has long been a promising stage racing prospect after winning the Tour de l’Avenir in 2011. That promise showed signs of emergence when he spent several days in the leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a Espana, took two stage wins and finished fifth overall.
Orica-GreenEdge has a good record at the Giro d’Italia in the past two seasons, having won six stages and spending 11 days in the pink jersey. Chaves spent several days in the young rider’s classification but ended the race more than three hours down on the winner Alberto Contador. This year the team are giving him their full backing.
“This is the first time in the team’s history that we have a team assembled around a rider who has the genuine credentials to compete for the general classification,” said White. “Esteban’s performance in last year’s Vuelta a Espana has given the team another string to its bow and supporting him will be our big focus for the race.
“This is new territory for us. We have enjoyed success at the Giro d’Italia in recent years with stage results and consecutive days in the leader’s jersey in 2014 and 2015, but we have never realistically gone into the race looking to challenge for the overall.”
Ewan will be the team’s main hope for victories in the opening stages. The young Australian is in his second season as a professional and has notched up three wins this year at the Tour Down Under and the Herald Sun Tour. He will have former Giro d’Italia stage winner Luka Mezgec to guide him through the sprints, the Slovenian will be another option for the Orica-GreenEdge team.
Spaniard’s Ruben Plaza and Amets Txurruka will be the main support for Chaves in the mountains. Sam Bewley, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson and Svein Tuft will complete the line-up.
“Esteban is super motivated, and he has prepared very well for the race,” White said. “We are confident that we can provide real support for Esteban. We have a well-balanced team around him and the experience of our Spanish riders Ruben and Amets will be important on the mountain stages.”
Orica-GreenEdge for the Giro d’Italia: Sam Bewley, Esteban Chaves, Caleb Ewan, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson, Luka Mezgec, Ruben Plaza, Svein Tuft, Amets Txurruka.