Chaves, Ewan & Gerrans headline ORICA-SCOTT team for Tour Down UnderMon 9 Jan 2017
ORICA-SCOTT will have sights set on stage wins and overall success when they line up at the Tour Down Under with a team packed full of talent from this Sunday.
Headlined by four-time and reigning champion Simon Gerrans, 2016 Il Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves and three-time 2016 stage winner Caleb Ewan, ORICA-SCOTT is looking to repeat the efforts of last year when it walked away with five stage wins (including the People’s Choice Classic) and the overall classification.
Sport director Matt White said the team, who always highlight the home WorldTour race as a key target, has one of its strongest line-ups in history for the 2017 edition.
“It’s going to be pretty hard top last year’s results, but the team we have this year is as good as we have ever had at the Tour Down Under,” White said. “This is an important race for us, our sponsors and our Australian fans and again we are aiming high with general classification and stage ambitions.”
“The changes to the second stage into Paracombe make it the new queen stage and we will have a pretty good idea of how the field is going at the end of it. Instead of a 1.8km climb to finish we will have 20-odd minutes of climbing, and we have two quality options in Gerrans and Chaves depending on how the stage is raced.
“The Willunga stage will still be where the Tour Down Under is won or lost, but by the time we arrive at this day the general classification situation will be a lot clearer.”
The trio of stars are buoyed by some of ORICA-SCOTT’s best supporting talent including Luke Durbridge, whose relentless ride at the Australian Championships yesterday showed he is in top form, and Damien Howson, a key player in Chaves’ two Grand Tour podiums in 2016.
“Luke and Damien are coming in as work horses,” White explained. “They will have to do a lot of the grunt work but they know this and they are ready for it.”
South African Daryl Impey, a regular at the Tour Down Under, can support both of the team goals in overall success and stage targets, whilst Ewan will also get his first opportunity to work with new signing Roger Kluge in the sprint finishes.
“We wanted to bring Roger into the fray to start the relationship with Caleb early,” White explained. “The pair will do a lot of races together this year and Daryl Impey will also be a big player in this relationship.”
“Caleb has been working with Daryl for a couple of years now, we introduced Luka Mezgec into the team in 2016, and this year we strengthen the group again with Roger.
“We are confident that the trio will gel together quickly in Adelaide, and with one of the most sprint-friendly courses of the Tour Down Under there is the potential for a number of opportunities to test it out.”
The Santos Tour Down Under kicks off with the People’s Choice Classic criterium on Sunday evening before the six-day Tour begins in earnest on Tuesday in Unley and finishes with the traditional final Adelaide criterium on Sunday, 22 January.
ORICA-SCOTT at the Santos Tour Down Under (15 – 22 January):
Santos Tour Down Under – Race Details
Sunday, 15 Jan: People’s Choice Classic, Adelaide, 50.6km
Tuesday, 17 Jan: Stage 1, Unley to Lyndoch, 145km
Wednesday, 18 Jan: Stage 2, Stirling to Paracombe, 148.5km
Thursday, 19 Jan: Stage 3, Glenelg to Victor Harbor, 144km
Friday, 20 Jan: Stage 4, Norwood to Campbelltown, 149km
Saturday, 21 Jan: Stage 5, McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Sunday, 22 Jan: Stage 6, Adelaide, 90km