2015 OGE WRAP: Arrival on the GC stage, 22 of 28 victories from riders 25 and underWed 14 Oct 2015
ORICA-GreenEDGE closed the door on the 2015 season, its fourth as Australia’s first ever professional cycling team, in the best possible fashion on Sunday, taking out the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour with Esteban Chaves.
The win, which was the 25-year-old Colombian’s first multi-stage Tour title, marked the 28th professional victory for the Australian outfit on a 2015 race calendar that featured 228 race days for 52 races.
Amongst the victories were five Grand Tour stages, 11 WorldTour victories and four wins on Australian soil. Eight separate riders contributed to the team’s individual successes, with a further six involved in the team time trial victory at the Giro d’Italia.
And in one of the most promising signs for ORICA-GreenEDGE, 22 of the 28 victories came from riders aged 25years or younger.
“To be able to sit back after another successful season and note that so many of our victories came from our younger bunch of riders is extremely satisfying,” general manager Shayne Bannan said. “Not only does it say something about our recruitment and direction, but also about how we are developing these young athletes on the world’s biggest stage.”
“We have Caleb Ewan, at just 21-year’s old, who has recorded an incredible 11 professional victories, including a Grand Tour stage on debut. And people also forget that Michael Matthews, who has been a winner for us for a number of years now, has only just turned 25.”
2015 also saw ORICA-GreenEDGE branch out to general classification objectives. After positive results, for the first time in the team’s history, it will start the 2016 season as a serious contender for overall victories – in stage races and at Grand Tour level.
“This season has been a changing of the guard in a number of ways,” Bannan continued. “As the statistics suggest, our young riders are getting results on the board but we have also extended our focus to consider general classification opportunities with our young climbers too.”
“Just as important as the recorded victories were results such as fifth place overall to Esteban Chaves at the Vuelta a Espana, Simon Yates winning the best young rider at the Criterium du Dauphine and he and twin brother Adam Yates showing they can climb with the best at the Tour de France.
“These young climbers are developing probably faster than even we imagined, but it is a great sign for the team going forward and it really adds another string to our bow. We are excited that our fans now have riders to cheer for well into the third week of racing at Grand Tours.”
The team will now take a well-earned short break before preparing for an even bigger 2016, beginning with a jammed packed summer of cycling in Australia. Groups will reunite in Australia and Europe in November for the first training camps.
Some (of the many) highlights of ORICA-GreenEDGE’s 2015 season:
Arrival on the General Classification Stage
Victory of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour and performances such as fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana and the white best young rider’s jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine, a key Tour de France lead-up event, announce the arrival of ORICA-GreenEDGE and its young band of climbers on the international general classification stage.
With talents such as Esteban Chaves (25) and Adam and Simon Yates (23), the team’s direction and focus for the future extends beyond the previous stage result targets to full week-long Tours and three-week Grand Tours.
11 Professional Neo-Pro Victories
Spending much of the season as a 20-year-old, Caleb Ewan’s neo-pro year will be one not easily forgotten.
The pint-sized sprinter recorded 11 professional victories at the Herald Sun Tour, Tour de Langkawi, Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja, Tour de Korea and Vuelta a Espana.
Ewan’s stage five victory at the Vuelta a Espana, his most significant win to date, came on Grand Tour debut and ahead of the likes of John Degenkolb and since-crowned world champion Peter Sagan.
After success in 2014, ORICA-GreenEDGE again hit the first Grand Tour of the season – the Giro d’Italia – with high ambitions.
For the second consecutive season the Australian outfit claimed first honours in the pink Maglia Rosa courtesy of a team time trial victory. They would go on to hold it for four days on the shoulders of three Australian riders – Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews and Simon Clarke – whilst also claiming a second stage win during Matthews’ reign as race leader.
When ORICA-GreenEDGE went into the final Grand Tour of the season with an ambitious top ten overall aim, 38th (Pieter Weening, 2013 Giro d’Italia) was their previous best effort.
In another dream opening week for the team, they wrapped up three stage wins (Chaves – stage 2 and 6, Ewan – stage 5) and spent six days in the red leader’s jersey.
This time, the focus continued for the entire three-week Tour, eventually leading Chaves and ORICA-GreenEDGE to a breakthrough top five overall.
The Rise of the British Twins
British twins Adam and Simon Yates began to make their mark in 2014, but have well and truly arrived this season.
Adam took his first WorldTour win at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian whilst Simon had a standout performance to win the white best young rider’s jersey at Tour de France lead-in race – Criterium du Dauphine.
The pair also continued to build their strength and battle with some of the world’s best climbers across multiple mountain stages at the Tour de France.
It wasn’t quite a victory, but a strong Classics campaign gave ORICA-GreenEDGE some top results early in the season.
The outfit finished with three podiums – third places to Michael Matthews at Milan-SanRemo and Amstel Gold Race and Michael Albasini at La Fleche Wallonne – and their best ever result at a cobbled Classic – sixth at Paris-Roubaix to Jens Keukeleire.
Michael Matthews capped off 2015 claiming the silver medal at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Richmond.
The 25-year-old won the bunch sprint for second behind world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) who proved too good for the rest, escaping in the final kilometres.
What started as a hopeful and promising Tour de France quickly turned to a disaster, as ORICA-GreenEDGE was the worst hit by a mass high-speed crash on stage three. Injuries resulted in three experienced, high-quality withdrawals and left a depleted, damaged and relatively young group of riders.
Riding through pain and disappointment but with the admiration of those around them, the six remaining carried on to show the true ORICA-GreenEDGE family spirit by forming together and bravely fighting for results in the remainder of the year’s biggest race.