ORICA-GreenEDGE has confirmed the nine-man team for this year’s Tour de France and head into the race with an experienced squad, targeting stage victories.
In 2015, the team suffered awful misfortune on day two of the race, losing three riders to injury before battling on to seven top ten results with a depleted six-man team.
Sport director Matt White is happy with the combination of experience and talent in this year’s team and is looking forward to better fortune in the weeks to come.
“We have a great degree of flexibility, experience and talent in the team for the Tour,” said White. “I am happy with the combination of riders and it gives us an exciting mix of options for the three weeks ahead.”
“Our objective is to target stage wins and we will be approaching every day like it’s a classic. We have a robust, versatile roster that can cope with the big effort required to compete and win in the Tour de France.”
The nine-rider lineup includes 2016 Paris Roubaix champion Mathew Hayman, making his second appearance at the Tour. The ORICA-GreenEDGE road captain’s wealth of experience will be vital at this year’s race with the team singling out specific stages to achieve results.
“Mathew (Hayman) is our road captain and his leadership and experience will be important to us throughout the race,” explained White. “Simon (Gerrans) has the most experience at the Tour de France for ORICA-GreenEDGE with stage wins in 2013 and 2008 and we will be looking to him to increase that tally.”
Gerrans started the season brilliantly by winning his fourth Santos Tour Down Under title and returns to the Tour looking to repeat his 2013 success. A win in Corsica by Gerrans followed by an ORICA-GreenEDGE team time trial victory in Nice gave the Australian team its first Tour de France yellow jersey.
“Simon has had great preparation throughout June with stints at altitude and racing at the Dauphine,” White said. “He performs very well under pressure and has the ability to come up with the goods when the big goals are set.”
Michael Matthews and Adam Yates complete the trio of protected riders alongside Gerrans. Matthews will be aiming to reproduce his Paris-Nice form, winning two stages and the point’s jersey. The 25-year-old comes into the team directly from an intense period of training and fine tuning at the Tour de Suisse.
“For Michael (Matthews) last year’s Tour was somewhat of a disaster, fracturing his ribs on day two,” said White. “Even with these unfortunate problems Michael soldiered on bravely which ultimately gave him valuable experience to show how far he could push certain barriers.”
“He is super motivated to perform well here for the first time on the biggest stage in the world.”
Yates will be appearing in his second Tour de France and rode impressively at this year’s Criterium du Dauphine. Finishing third in the mountains against a world-class field on stage five and taking seventh on the overall general classification.
“Adam (Yates) will be our guy for the mountains. There is no pressure to compete for the overall, that’s not our objective,” stated White. “One door closes and another opens, there are lots of stages that will suit Adam in this years race.”
“He is only 23 and this is a vital part of Adam’s progression. He is versatile and can go head to head with the best of the climbers and this experience will be important for him.”
Spanish all-rounder Ruben Plaza has competed in ten grand tours including finishing in fifth place overall at the 2005 Vuelta a Espana, winning the stage to Gap in last year’s Tour de France and a top ten overall finish in 2010. Plaza will work in tandem with Yates in the mountains and will provide the team with an interesting option for the breakaway days after his strong rides in this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Swiss stalwart Michael Albasini and 2013 yellow jersey wearer Daryl Impey give ORICA-GreenEDGE additional versatility in support of Gerrans and Matthews and more strong options for stages that are suited to the opportunist.
Already this year Albasini has produced an impressive second at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and win on stage five of the Tour of Romandie after a dynamic move from a breakaway.
Impey has also been showing good form ahead of the Tour, racking up two top-ten finishes at the recent Criterium du Dauphine and three top-five results at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.
Former Australian champion Luke Durbridge and 2015 Tour of Denmark winner Chris Juul-Jensen complete the lineup for ORICA-GreenEDGE, with Durbridge returning for his third appearance in ‘La Grand Boucle’.
Juul Jensen is making his debut in the race and, together with Durbridge, forms the beating heart of the team’s engine room. The two strong men will shoulder the huge workload required to give the team opportunities for victory throughout the race and also give the team options to roll the dice in the breaks.
The Tour de France takes place from the 2nd to the 24th of July and covers 3,535 kilometres. It is the 103rd edition of the truly historic race and for the first time in history, it begins in the department of Manche in the region of Normandy.
ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Tour de France (2nd – 24th July):
Michael Albasini (SUI, 35)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, WA, 25)
Simon Gerrans (AUS, VIC, 36)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, ACT, 38)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 30)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 26)
Michael Matthews (AUS, ACT, 25)
Ruben Plaza (ESP, 36)
Adam Yates (GBR, 23)