Adam and Simon Yates will lead the Orica-GreenEdge team in the Basque Country at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco WorldTour stage race with Simon Gerrans free to chase stage wins. The Australian team has won at least one stage since it first appearance in 2012, with Michael Matthews wining stage 1 and wearing the first leader's jersey at the 2015 edition of the race.
A stage winner in 2013, Gerrans will be aiming for his first win on European soil in 2016 having won his fourth Tour Down Under title in January with the remainder of the team based around the GC ambitions of the Yates'.
"We have a really good mix of riders for this year's race, the team is very well balanced," said sports director Neil Stephens. "It's always a hard event due to the terrain and the climbers will be very important for us.
"It's a really competitive field with lots of the grand tour contenders taking part. We are aiming to be up there with the best guys but we know it won't be an easy task."
Having finished top-ten in three of the four one-week WorldTour stage races he started last year, Simon Yates enters the race in form after his seventh place in Paris-Nice and Stephens is backing the British rider to match his fifth place from last year.
"Simon (Yates) achieved a great result here in 2015 and all in all it was a good week for us," continued Stephens. "It would fantastic if we can produce that kind of performance again this year."
"We will have to be on our game from day one, there are eight categorised climbs on the opening stage and the racing will start from the first kilometre."
Adam Yates has just one stage race in his legs so far this season, the Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished 19th overall, and will be hoping for a better result than 2015 when he was a non-starter on stage 2. The 23-year-old won his last race on Spanish soil at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian and will first start the GP Miguel Indurain on Saturday in preparation for the WorldTour race.
A winner of the sprints and mountains classification at the 2013 edition of the race, Spanish climber Amets Txurruka will support the Yates' across the hilly terrain along with compatriot and fellow new signing Ruben Plaza. Michael Albasini, another former mountains classification winner at the race, Christian Meier and Damien Howson round out the squad.
The Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco takes place April 4-9 with stage one taking the riders from Etxebarria to Markina-Xemein and concludes with a 16.5km time trial in Eibar.
OricaGreenEdge for the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco: Michael Albasini, Simon Gerrans, Damien Howson, Christian Meier, Ruben Plaza, Amets Txurruka, Adam Yates and Simon Yates.
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