Orica GreenEdge's plans for a future Grand Tour challenger look set to depend on the development of their current crop of talent after discussions with Bradley Wiggins and Wilco Kelderman stalled in recent weeks.
The Australian outfit were on the lookout for a thoroughbred Grand Tour contender and held discussions of varying seriousness with both Wiggins and Kelderman. But the team will now look to develop its younger talents, brothers Adam and Simon Yates, and Esteban Chaves. It also looked to strengthen other areas and re-signed Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews on multi-year deals.
"The status for us is that we've signed our main riders in Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews," Shayne Bannan told Cyclingnews in Carcassonne on Tuesday.
"As far as GC guys, we have some really good young talent in the Yates brothers and Esteban Chaves and we really want to hang onto them, and help them progress over the next few years.
"Chaves is contracted with us until the end of 2016 and the Yates brothers have contracts with us until the end of next year. They’re real priorities and they’re our main goals."
Wiggins was briefly linked to the team in May but looks set to agree terms with Team Sky for his last contract before retirement. Kelderman, previously touted by Orica-GreenEdge as a major transfer target, looks set to stay with his current team after Belkin's management confirmed that they had a new backer for 2015 and beyond.
"I know that there have been informal discussions with Wiggins and formal discussions with Kelderman but at this stage we've not gone any further," Bannan told Cyclingnews.
"With Wiggins, it was just a friendly telephone conversation between Bradley and Matt White, that's all. With Kelderman, we've had several discussions with his management group but that was a while ago and we've not had contact for the last three weeks.
"Firstly, it's fantastic news that they have a sponsorship deal and it's in their best interests that they keep a guy like Kelderman because he's really important to their team. We'll see what evolves in the coming weeks and keep our ears open."
One rider Bannan ruled out joining the team was Cadel Evans. The former Tour de France winner is out of a contract at the end of the season. His agent told Cyclingnews last week that no teams had approached the Australian and that the likely scenario would either be retirement or a new deal at his existing team, BMC. Cyclingnews understands that one possibility could see Evans remain at BMC before retiring after the Tour Down Under next January.
"We've really not had discussions with Cadel. I don't think that's happening. At this stage our team will look very similar to this year."
The future of GreenEdge's Matt Goss has yet to be finalised. The former Milan-San Remo winner has failed to build on his early promise while in the Orica team kit and failed to make the starting line for either the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France this season. His contract expires at the end of the season and Bannan appeared open to re-signing the rider once coveted as one of the squad’s marquee signings.
"We still believe that he has a lot to contribute to the team in the future. We're still in discussions with him. He's still only young, he did win some pretty impressive races earlier on and we'll see how that discussion goes."
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