Casting an eye over the GreenEdge roster, Pieter Weening's name is like a beacon at sea – a climber surrounded by men built for speed.
Aged 30, Weening made the giant leap from Dutch powerhouse Rabobank where he'd ridden since an espoir and now stands as arguably the most experienced international recruit for the WorldTour debutants.
"Rabobank is a good team, everything was always well organised and stuff like that but it was the moment to look for something else, something different, for a new motivation," Weening told Cyclingnews in Melbourne. "This is a new team so it all starts from the ground zero. You know everyone is well motivated and that's the main reason I chose GreenEdge."
Admitting to feeling stale after 11 seasons with Rabobank, if there was a hiccup in Weening's long-running relationship with the team, it came in the lead-up to the 2010 Tour de France when he didn't make the cut for the nine-man selection, leaving the Harkema-native "angry" and perplexed over management's decision. He now seems philosophical over the chain of events and denies it planted the seed of thought to move on.
"I always worked very well with Rabobank and sometimes some riders are disappointed because you have enough riders, it just so happened that I fell out of the nine riders for the Tour," he said. "Of course everybody wants to be in the Tour but I also understand that it's not possible to do every year."
The team with the 'Australian DNA' has come under scrutiny throughout the process of unveiling their roster ahead of their inaugural season, especially from local media scraping for the next Cadel Evans, the next bona fide Grand Tour winner. Where were the genuine general classification contenders for GreenEdge? The team's general manager, Shayne Bannan has remained steadfast in his approach, responding that this was a long-term project and the likes of Jack Bobridge and Cameron Meyer will fit the bill down the line. For now, the goal remains the one day classics and stage wins in Grand Tours.
So where does Weening fit in this line-up having well-and-truly burst onto the scene in 2005 with his victory over Andreas Klöden on a tough eighth stage of the Tour de France? For starters, he isn't at all concerned over the possibility that he could find himself isolated during some of the longer climbs throughout the season.
"I think there are some young riders coming up, like Jack Bobridge, so I don't think I'll be the only one," the Dutchman explains. "Also for them it's a good opportunity to learn."
Apart from Weening, the outfit's ability to tackle the larger cols of Europe remains a largely unknown and even unconsidered quantity. There is also the question of what fruits the considerable climbing talent of Daniel Teklehaymanot will bear, given the opportunity.
The 2011 season was a good one for Weening, returning to the winner's circle after a barren 2010 with victory on the 191 kilometre fifth stage between Piombino and Orvieto, claiming the maglia rosa which he'd wear for four days. In 2012, it's the Tour de France if he's "good enough" and the Vuelta a España that he's eyeing in terms of three-week epics.
Beginning his season in Mallorca in February, Weening will then move on to the Giro di Sardegna later that month before ramping things up for the stretch from Volta a Catalunya through to the Tour de Romandie.
"The biggest thing in that part of the season for me is to be good in the Ardennes, like Amstel and Liege, those are the main goals for me in the spring season."
As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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