The Orica-GreenEdge team has named its nine riders for the Tour de France, confirming it will target stage victories with Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews, Adam and Simon Yates, Michael Albasini and Daryl Impey. The team will be looking for another successful Grand Tour after netting three maglia rosas with as many riders at the Giro d’Italia this May. The Australian squad will focus their effort on stage win opportunities listing no designated GC contender.
“We have a lot of opportunities right throughout the three weeks, whereas at Tour’s in the past we haven’t had guys who can win high mountain stages,” directeur sportif Matt White said. “The goal for us is stage victories and because of the quality of this team, everyone will be given a chance to win a stage.”
Matthews will finally get his chance to ride the Tour after he was forced to pull out of last year’s race, due to injury just days before the start. Despite predictions of Matthews challenging Sagan for the green jersey, White insists the sprint points classification is off the radar.
“The goal for him is to win a stage and there are good opportunities right throughout the Tour for him. The green jersey, despite much hype, is not on our agenda this year,” White said. Matthews just recently out-sprinted Sagan for the win on Stage 4 at the Tour de Suisse.
Simon Yates will be making his second appearance at the Tour after a late call up in 2014, with his twin brother Adam is riding it for the first time. The Yates brothers have shown huge potential in stage races but Orica-GreenEdge has played down any idea of them targeting the overall classification at such a young age.
“I think it would be pretty irresponsible for us to put pressure on 22-year-olds, as second year pros, to ride general classification at the Tour de France,” said White. “What they have proven this year is that they have the ability to be very competitive on a lot of varied terrains and against the best riders in the world.”
Like Matthews, Gerrans is riding his second Grand Tour of the year, after the Giro d’Italia, having recovered from injuries sustained earlier in the season. “Even though it has been an unfortunate year injury wise for Simon, the build-up he has had over these last two months has been pretty ideal,” White explained. “He is ready to roll and since this teams inception has been one of our most reliable athletes.”
Leading Matthews and Gerrans to the line will be Impey, the South African who won the team time trial in 2013, landing in yellow, and Albasini, a punchy rider with back-to-back wins at the Tour de Romandie this year. Continuing his comeback after a serious chest injury sustained last spring, Tuft will be making his third appearance in the Tour. The Canadian has fewer racing days this season than most of his teammates, but with few time trial kilometres in the parcours this year, look for him to work hard for his teammates.
Rounding out the squad will be Luke Durbridge, and Pieter Weening, domestiques helping to get the job done. White will look to Weening to help guide the Yates brothers, having won a stage at the Tour a decade ago.
“This is the most well rounded and balanced team we have ever sent to a Grand Tour,” White concluded. “With so many options right across the board, the month ahead is a pretty exciting prospect.”
The Tour de France starts with an individual time trial in Utrecht, in the Netherlands on Saturday.
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