2014 Team Previews: Orica-GreenEdge

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Who are the sponsor? Orica are an Australian mining company, whilst GreenEdge is a generic moniker, a la ‘Leopard’ that was meant to brand the team and advertise for a secondary sponsor.

Nationality: Australian

2013 Ranking: 13th

Past Stars: Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady, Baden Cooke.

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Selected Team Palmares: TTT, Tour de France 2013, 2x Stages Tour de France, 3x Tour Down Under, Stage, Giro d’Italia, Stage, Vuelta a Espana, 2012 Milan San Remo, (all Simon Gerrans), 2011 Milan San Remo, stage, Giro d’Italia, 2nd, 2011 Worlds, (all Matt Goss), 2012Volta a Catalunya, Stage, Vuelta a Espana, (Michael Albasini), Stage, Tour de France, stage Giro d’Italia, 2012 Tour of Poland (All Pieter Weening)

Brief Team History: GreenEdge was created in 2011, born out of the death of Pegasus team, which had bought men such as Bernard Sulzberger and Jonathan Cantwell onto the team before it went belly up. GreenEdge arrived in January 2012, with a who’s who of Australian talent minus then talisman and Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, who was still contracted to BMC. They did however have Matt Goss, Robbie McEwen and Simon Gerrans, who promptly won them their first ever race in the Tour Down Under and then won Milan-San Remo a couple of months later. Just ahead of the Giro, the team brought in Orica as a title sponsor, keeping the GreenEdge name on the shirt as they sought a second and as yet unfulfilled extra sponsor.

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Last year: Australians had won Milan San Remo for the last two years, but Orica couldn’t make it 3 in a row in what in fairness was very un-Australian weather.  They did win a stage of the Tour Down Under, before slowly ticking over the wins until their big success story – the first week of the Tour de France. Happily courting the cliche  that all publicity is good publicity, they first helped sum up the Tour as a microcosm of the unexpected by crashing their bus into the finish line ganting, forcing a hell of a kerfuffle as the finish line switched and changed between 3km and the actual finish before they eventually removed the stricken vehicle from the paths of the charging riders. Then, having never won a Tour stage, two came along at once – first, Simon Gerrans pipped Peter Sagan into Calvi before winning the TTT the next day in Nice, giving Simon Gerrans the yellow jersey for two days before it passed to Daryl Impey, who became the first African born rider to wear the yellow jersey before he passed it on the the second African born rider, Chris Froome. The end of the year was an exercise in picking up wins, as Pieter Weening won the Tour of Poland and Michael Matthews scrambled two Vuelta stage wins in a race with perilously few sprint opportunities. The team then engaged in a high speed duel with OPQS in the Worlds TTT, where the latter got their thrilling revenge for the less than a second defecit at the Tour by winning by 0.81 of a second. The only dissapointment was the circumstances of Stuart O’Grady’s departure, as well as the mess with Matt White at the start of the year.

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Transfer dealings: Orica haven’t been big transfer players in their couple of years in the peloton, having built a strong core of Australians and siphoning off the others from the other teams when they become avaliable. Thus, Matt Hayman joins from Sky this year to beef up their classics team in lieu of Stuart O’Grady’s retirement. They also lose Allan Davis, but have brought in some youth in the British Yates twins, Simon and Adam, as well as Italian champion Ivan Santamorita. All very like for like to be honest, with an emphasis on youth.

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Who are the star riders? Originally, the marquee name was Matt Goss, who had been Milan San Remo champion and had had a stellar 2011, but now it is Simon Gerrans, a multiple Grand Tour stage winner, Tour Down Under champion, yellow jersey and Goss’ successor as San remo winner. Goss’ sprint crown has been taken by Michael Matthews, still only 23, with Daryl Impey, Brett Lancaster and Leigh Howard as back up. There’s some power in Luke Durbridge, known as ‘Turbo Durbo” for his TT oomph, then there’s all-rounder Michael Albasini and Pieter Weening who are the best GC contenders along side young Cameron Meyer. Add in some classics men like Matt Hayman and climber Simon Clarke and you have a varied, if not stellar squad.

Fashion police: A move to Craft means they’ve updated their kit, but its essentially the same Aussie-centric Gold and Green flavoured colours it always has been.

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What are their targets? Milan San Remo is everyones target, so we’ll gloss over that, but more stage wins in Grand Tours is what they’llbe after. They don’t have anyone strong enough to win a Grand Tour, and will no doubt be disappointed to see Aussies Porte and Evans battle out the Giro, but until they develop someone of their own, they will have to reply on their ‘hitters’ to dig out stage wins, especially given Goss isn’t quite the sprint force he used to be. Gerrans will also want to look at the hilly classics that suit his style, like Liege, Amstel and Fleche Wallone.

What are they likely to achieve? Probably the same as this year, with Gerrans having already won their ‘home’ Tour Down Under, they’llbe happy with an assortment of Grand Tour stages and World Tour races. They may well crack the Worlds TTT as well, after various near misses.

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Components: Orica ride Scott bicycles with Shimano components and dressed with Elite and Continental, and wear Craft clothing

The Big Question(s): Was 2011 the peak for Goss? Can Gerrans win an Ardenne Classic?

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