Orica-Scott will head to Milan-San Remo with the triple threat of young sprinters Caleb Ewan, Magnus Cort, and 2012 winner Simon Gerrans. The Australian team has confirmed its eight-rider squad for the 108th running of La Classicissima on Saturday with its focus on a sprint finale.
In the past few seasons Michael Matthews was the go-to man for Orica-Scott, but with the Australian's departure, Orica-Scott is looking to Ewan and Cort on their debuts at the Italian monument.
"Magnus has some experience with races over 250km from the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix so we are confident he can take another step up in distance for Milan-San Remo this weekend," sport director Matt White said. "Caleb hasn't had the ideal preparation having to withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico following his crash but he has been training well at home."
In 2017, Ewan started his season with a win at the Bay Crits, and defended his Australian national criterium title before clean sweeping the Tour Down Under sprints. The 22-year-old then lined out at the Abu Dhabi Tour against an all star sprint field, winning the final stage to make up his 'rookie mistake' on stage 2 that cost him the win.
Milan-San Remo will be the first monument of Ewan's career and also his longest race to date. Two important caveats when assessing his chances of victory as White explained.
"For Caleb, this year is more about experience. We expect the distance to be a difficult task which is natural for a young rider who has yet to challenge himself in a race situation for this duration," he said. "But it is a race he is passionate about and we will hopefully see him feature even more in the future."
Gerrans and 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman will be two key experienced heads on the team for Orica-Scott with the latter set to start his 11th edition of the race. Michael Albasini and Daryl Impey will add further experience and versatility to the squad.
"It's a long and nervous day. The action really heats up in the last 30km with the Cipressa before the Poggio [which] often sees fireworks as riders roll the dice ahead of the sprint," said White.
Fast men Jens Keukeleire and Luka Mezgec complete the squad and will be called upon in the finale to lead out Cort and Ewan.
Cyclingnews will have live coverage of Milan-San Remo with a full report, results, video highlights, photo gallery and news to follow.
Orica-Scott for Milan-San Remo: Michael Albasini, Magnus Cort, Caleb Ewan, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman, Daryl Impey, Jens Keukeleire and Luka Mezgec.