The Orica-GreenEdge team has reaped a fair amount of reward from its young riders this season and is once again putting its faith in youth for the final monument of the season – Il Lombardia on Sunday.
Adam and Simon Yates, both 23, have both confirmed their enormous potential this year, Adam taking a huge win at the Clásica San Sebastián and Simon impressing in the week-long stage races. On top of that, 25-year-old Esteban Chaves won stages, held the red jersey, and eventually finished fifth in the Vuelta a Espana – the same race where 21-year-old Caleb Ewan notched a breakthrough victory.
It is the Yates twins and Chaves who are leading Orica on Sunday at Il Lombardia, a hilly 245-kilometre one-day race from Bergamo to Como in northern Italy.
"There is a lot of pressure put on some pretty young shoulders with the two Yates boys and Chaves. We will be looking to those guys because we believe it's going to be a really hard final," said the Australian team's directeur sportif Neil Stephens.
"The riders we are going up against are good climbers and they are fast as well. Our three guys are good climbers, but they are young and a lot of things can happen at this time of the year. The strength that we have is that we could potentially have three of them there in the final so communication between those guys is the key to our race."
Given the length and hilly nature of the course, the youthful trio represent Stephens' best bet for monument glory, but should the race prove less selective than expected, there are a couple of rather more experienced fall-back options. Michael Albasini and Simon Gerrans are both punchy riders, the former finishing sixth in Lombardy last year and the latter winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"We are fortunate to have guys like Albasini. He knows what it's like to be in the final of these races, he knows what it takes," said Stephens. "He and Gerrans will be there as the more experienced guys, and certainly if the race pans out that way and the young guys struggle, they can certainly take up the running."
Completing the line up, and solely consigned to domestique duties, are Christian Meier, Jens Keukeleire and Damien Howson.
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