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“As an Australian team, this is a very important race for us. We always want to do well at the Tour Down Under. We have a strong team, and everyone is really motivated to bring home some good results in front of our Australian fans,&q...

Photo: Sirotti


















01.01.2014 @ 11:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Orica-GreenEDGE has presented a very strong line-up for their most important home race as the team will send a very versatile roster to the Tour Down Under. While Simon Gerrans will target his third overall win in the race, Matthew Goss and Michael Matthews will be on hand to chase success in the sprints.


When the team made its debut at the beginning of the 2012 season, Orica-GreenEDGE was under huge pressure to come out with all guns blazing. They lived up to expectations when Simon Gerrans both won the Australian national championships and the Tour Down Under overall while Luke Durbridge triumphed in the national time trial championships.


The results set the bar high for the Australian team for their season-opening races on home soil and last year they again delivered in front of their fans. Durbridge won both Australian titles while Gerrans bounced back from asthma attack to win the queen stage of the Tour Down Under to the top of the Willunga Hill.


2014 will see the team chase success in their biggest home race for the third time when they line up for the Tour Down Under with the support of the entire nation. As usual, the team has given great priority to the race and lines up one of its strongest possible rosters.


“As an Australian team, this is a very important race for us,” said Sport Director Matt White. “We always want to do well at the Tour Down Under. We have a strong team, and everyone is really motivated to bring home some good results in front of our Australian fans. We’re targeting stage wins and focused on the overall. We have a number of options to achieve these goals.”


Gerrans will be back in an attempt to win the race for the third time, having also taken the win in 2006 prior to the race's inclusion in the WorldTour. He ended his season early due to a broken hip and has made it clear that he wants to have a strong start to the season.


“This race certainly suits Gerro’s characteristics,” said White. “He’s put a big emphasis on the race during the last two years, and he has done the same again for the upcoming season. He had an early exit to last year with a broken hip. Now he’s fresh, fit and very motivated.”


With its uphill finish on Willunga, the uphill finish in Stirling and a stage over the Corkscrew climb, the stage suits an Ardennes specialist like Gerrans perfectly. However, the race also offers three sprint stages where Orica-GreenEDGE will try to challenge the likes of Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel.


Matthew Goss will be back after a disastrous 2013 season and has decided to go back to the formula he used in his successful 2011 season. This could see him start the season well but he will have to share sprinting duties with Michael Matthews, fresh off from two stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana.


“It’s natural that people will want to know who we’re working for in the sprints,” said White “The honest answer is that we don’t know yet. We’re going to have to wait to get closer to the day to make that decision. The races in the first half of January will give us some indication, but we may not know until we see what happens out on the road during the Tour Down Under.”


The duo will be supported by Goss' usual lead-out man Daryl Impey who could also be of support for Gerrans on some of the harder stages.


“Daryl has been preparing for the start of the season in the Southern Hemisphere,” said White. “He spends his off season at home in South Africa, and he’s always able to get in very good training. He’s a rider we can count on to perform well at the start of the year, and his inclusion in our team is crucial for our goals.”


Gerrans' most important support rider in the hills will, however, be 2011 Vuelta king of the mountains Simon Clarke.


“Clarkey is a very canny rider,” said White. “He can read races very well, and he certainly knows his way around the bunch. He can fill several roles within the team at this race, and we can count on him to fully commit to whatever his job is on any given day.”


Durbridge is training hard to defend his two Australian titles and will carry his form into the Tour Down Under where the time trial specialist will be counted on to perform a huge workload for the team.


“Durbo is also an important part of the equation,” White said. “Because of his focus on the individual time trial at the National Championships, we know he will be in great shape in three weeks. Like Clarkey, Luke’s versatility adds huge value to our line-up.”


While the six first riders are all returning for another year with Orica-GreenEDGE, the final rider on the roster, Mathew Hayman is preparing himself for his first race for the Australian team, having left Sky at the end of the season. The experienced classics specialist will work as road captain and play a role in the sprint train.


“Mat has been around the block a number of times at the Tour Down Under,” said White. “This is his first time working for us of course, and we’re very excited to have him onboard. His experience will be a huge big benefit to our team.”


Race director Mike Turtur is looking forward to having the crowd favourites back in the race.


“In ORICA-GreenEDGE we have an enormously popular group of riders that continues to achieve on the cycling’s world stage,” he said. “Seeing the team do so well at this year’s Tour de France was a proud moment for Australian cycling fans. We know they’re eager to build on this success and there’s no better place to do that than at the first major race of the season.”


The People's Choice Classic will take place on January 19 while the Tour Down Under will kick off for real two days later.


Orica-GreenEDGE for the Tour Down Under:

Daryl Impey (RSA)
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Matt Goss (AUS)
Mathew Hayman (AUS)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Simon Clarke (AUS)
Simon Gerrans (AUS)



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