Orica-GreenEdge focused on Giro d'Italia stage wins
Australian team confident of repeating 2014 success
The Orica-GreenEdge team will target the race leader's maglia rosa and stage win during the Giro d'Italia with Michael Matthews, Simon Gerrans and strong, mixed roster of riders. Last year the Australian team won the opening team time trial and stage six with Matthews as they held the leader's jersey for seven days with Pieter Weening adding further success by winning stage nine.
Sport director Matt White is confident that nine-rider team selected for this year's Corsa Rosa can emulate the results from 12 months ago. Lining up alongside Matthews and Gerrans are Sam Bewley, Esteban Chaves, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Simon, Michael Hepburn, Brett Lancaster and Pieter Weening.
Matthews showed excellent form in April, winning the opening stage at the Tour of the Basque Country and then finishing second at the Amstel Gold Race. The Orica-GreenEdge team has won 13 race so far this season, including two stages at last weeks Tour de Romandie.
"We are aiming for multiple stage wins and the leader's jersey," White said in the team's announcement. "If we could achieve similar results to last year then it would be a fair call to say we would be satisfied. I honestly think it's achievable. I think if we can win the first stage team time trial we are off to a sensational start."
"Then when you look at the stages throughout the three weeks, we have got multiple options with our fast guys in Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans, we also have a great group of opportunists to take on the medium mountain stages and even high mountains with Esteban Chaves."
Targeting the opening team time trial
Orica-GreenEdge's first target of the race remains the team time trial, a 17.6km test against the clock from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo on the seafront bike path, with White confident the team's chrono specialists can deliver them to victory.
"We have four guys who have a wealth of experience in that event in Brett Lancaster, Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge and Sam Bewley and they're the back bone to our team time trial," White said. "All of those guys have ridden a world title with us in the event, three of the four of them are Olympic medalists in the team pursuit and Durbo is a world champion. They are guys that handle big pressure, they handle big events and they're really looking forward to Saturday. And in the other half of the team we have some strong guys who we know can contribute at an incredibly high level."
Gerrans back at the Giro
Simon Gerrans makes his return to the Giro for the second time in his career after his 2009 debut which saw the 34-year-old claim a stage win. He will be looking to open his 2015 account at the three week race after a crash and injury-hit spring.
"Ideally we'd like to see both Simon and Michael leaving with a stage win each," White said. "We will be taking it day by day. There are certainly a few stages that suit their characteristics and the decision on who leads the team will be made as each stage progresses."
Weening and Simon Clarke will be given free roles to chase stage wins in the medium mountain stages with no rider in the team focused on the overall classification.
"Both Weening and Clarke will be getting multiple opportunities to go on the hunt for stage victories," White said. "Pieter has ticked that box a couple of times before, last year with us and a couple of years before he came to the team. It's Clarke's first Giro and I know he's excited to race a Grand Tour in the country he spends much of his year."
Colombian Esteban Chaves will make his Giro debut this year and will ride in support of the team with White keen on the 25-year-old gaining further Grand Tour experience following his 41st overall finish at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.
"We are thinking more long term for Esteban," White said. "We want to use the Giro as a big block for him. It's all still part of his comeback. He rode the Vuelta last year, with some great results and we are going to build on that at the Giro but general classification is not something we will be targeting as a team."
Orica-GreenEdge for the 2015 Giro d'Italia: Sam Bewley, Esteban Chaves, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Simon Gerrans, Michael Hepburn, Brett Lancaster, Michael Matthews and Pieter Weening.
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