Michael Matthews will look to make a winning return to French soil this coming weekend at the GP Ouest France-Plouay in his second race since winning stage 10 at the Tour de France in July. Matthews won't be the only card that Orica-BikeExchange can play on the lumpy WorldTour one-day course with Michael Albasini, Daryl Impey and Luka Mezgec capable of recording a result for the Australian team.
"With the new course it will probably be a bit more aggressive earlier on," said sports director Matt White of the 50th edition of the race. "It's usually quite a predictable race when it's been on the circuits, I expect it will be a really hard aggressive race this year."
"In the past a move usually goes on the final climb but usually gets brought back in the final few seconds. There's not been too many times were a move has stayed away to the line and I still think the race will be decided in the final 20 minutes."
Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman captains the squad with Luke Durbridge adding strength to the roster while Spanish duo Ruben Plaza and Carlos Verona add climbing talent.
"We will have multiple options in the final," added White. "If it gets aggressive in the last hour we have guys like Impey, Albasini and Durbridge to go in to moves and if it comes down to the final circuit we have fast men like Matthews and Luka Mezgec."
The race has been won by classics riders Alexander Kristoff, Sylvain Chavanel, Filippo Pozzato, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Australian duo Matt Goss and Simon Gerrans in recent years. With a stacked field set to contest the French race, White expects a deserving winner after 247km of racing.
"There will certainly be a strong field. All the good guys who aren't racing at La Vuelta will be here, a lot of good climbers and guys starting their build up for the final part of the season," said White. "I expect it will be a really hard race, and definitely the best field Plouay has ever had."
The day before the men's race, the Orica-AIS squad will contest the GP de Plouay with Katrin Garfoot, Rachel Neylan and Amanda Spratt making their returns to racing after national duty at the Olympic Games in Rio.
"Amanda Spratt will be one of the leaders going into this race along with Tayler Wiles," said sport director Gene Bates. "Tayler is usually suited a little more to the longer climbs as we saw in Route de France, but the harder the race the better it is for her."
"Rachel Neylan can go well on this course too so we will see on the day how she has backed up, having recently returned from the Olympic Games in Rio. She is very keen to finish off her season well, it is a WorldTour race so it will be a high quality field and a really hard race."
Wiles in particular is aiming for a good result on French soil off the back of second place overall at the Route de France.
"I'm feeling good, the legs are good and we have a good team for it. It is a good race for us because it is usually alway´s raced aggressively and that suits us well when the other team's want to race hard too," Wiles said. "I am really looking to it, it is one of the few races left on the calendar for us and there is usually such a great atmosphere with so many fans out on the course."
Orica-BikeExchange for GP Ouest France - Plouay: Michael Albasini, Luke Durbridge, Mathew Hayman, Daryl Impey, Michael Matthews, Luka Mezgec, Ruben Plaza and Carlos Verona.
Orica-AIS for GP de Plouay: Jenelle Crooks, Katrin Garfoot, Rachel Neylan, Sarah Roy, Amanda Spratt and Tayler Wiles.
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