Orica-GreenEdge have opted for a blend of youth and experience in their squad for the 2012 Vuelta a España, which starts in Pamplona this weekend. The Australian team will hand grand tour debuts to four riders - Simon Clarke, Mitch Docker, Travis Meyer and Daniel Teklehaimanot - but still remain confident of making a splash in the overall classification.
After a stunning start to life as a ProTour team, which saw Simon Gerrans win the Tour Down Under and Milan San Remo, the team have struggled slightly in the last couple of months. They failed to register a victory at the Tour de France and will be looking to the Vuelta, which runs from August 18 to September 9, to provide them with some momentum as the season enters its final couple of months.
The inexperience and promise of the debutants in Spain will be counterbalanced by the likes of Pieter Weening and Julian Dean. Weening first rode the Vuelta in 2004 and this will be his fourth appearance in the race and tenth in a grand tour. At the age of 37, Dean's presence on the team bus will be an invaluable one for the younger riders, who include Cameron Meyer - arguably the team's most promising rider and the winner of the 2011 Tour Down Under as a 22-year-old in the colours of Garmin.
"We've got a really good mixture of experience and knowledge, combined with some talented young riders,'' team manager Shayne Bannan told the Herald Sun.
"It will be about taking our opportunities, for guys like Cam Meyer it will be about being as consistent as possible but there's certainly no pressure on him for the GC. Pieter Weening will have a go in a few stages and so will Simon [Clarke] and Allan [Davis]."
Orica-GreenEdge squad for the 2012 Vuelta a España: Simon Clarke, Allan Davis, Julian Dean, Mitch Docker, Cameron Meyer, Travis Meyer, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Wesley Sulzberger, Pieter Weening