2017 Season Wrap: Back-to-Back Tour de France white jerseys & ongoing progression for ORICA-SCOTTFri 3 Nov 2017
The 2017 season came to a close at the inaugural Tour of Guangxi for ORICA-SCOTT last week with the Australian outfit able to look back on another positive campaign that included 26 UCI victories and saw the continued progression and development of the team’s young Grand Tour contenders.
The year began well with Caleb Ewan dominating the sprints at the Santos Tour Down Under with four stage wins before compatriot Damien Howson produced a breakthrough performance to take a stage win and the overall title at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Ewan’s stage success continued at the Giro d’Italia in May, sprinting to the win on stage seven and contributing to the team’s 13 WorldTour victories of the season, whilst in July Simon Yates mounted a successful defense of the Tour de France best young rider jersey.
Yates emulated brother Adam in 2016 by winning the white jersey and also recording a top ten overall finish with seventh place after notching early season wins at Paris-Nice on stage six and at the one-day Gran Premio Miguel Indurain.
General manager Shayne Bannan spoke highly of the team’s continued progression and development.
“There have been some fantastic moments throughout 2017 and some special achievements,” said Bannan. “Clear highlights being Simon Yates’ performance at the Tour de France, winning back-to-back white jersey’s is very significant and also Caleb’s win on stage seven of the Giro d’Italia.”
“We are still really developing as an organisation, particularly in relation to the Grand Tours and we have three really exciting and young GC riders in Simon and Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves who all competed in two Grand Tours for the first time this season.
“The reason behind this was their physical development for the future and we need to remember that these three guys are a lot younger than their GC competitors and we are really excited to be part of their development, especially when you factor in the new signings we have made for next year and how that will strengthen the squad.
“Caleb’s progression and results this season have been excellent, his performances have shown maturity and it’s really great to see how quickly the whole sprint train has gelled and come together in a short space of time."
We take a look back at some highlights of the 2017 season:
Season starts on song with more dominance down under
Ewan’s four stage wins out of six at the Tour Down Under kicked off 2017 with a bang and also continued ORICA-SCOTT’s rich history of success in the first WorldTour event of the season. Quickly followed by Howson’s breakout GC victory at the Herald Sun Tour a couple of weeks later, the Australian summer proved to be another fruitful hunting ground for the home team.
Bannan: “Having the season start in Australia is very important to the team, we are registered in Australia, we have a lot of Australian fans and we only get to race there in January and February.”
“I’m really proud of the way the riders approached January as they do each year, we have won a lot of races in Australia, but it is the way the guys race that is the most impressive and that was evident again in 2017."
Paris-Nice and the one-day victories
Magnus Cort kick started early spring for the team with a convincing victory in the Spanish Clasica de Almeria that went on to set the scene for another WorldTour win for Ewan at the Tour of Abu Dhabi and repeated success for Adam Yates at the Italian one-day race GP Industria and Atigianato.
Simon Yates bolstered the WorldTour tally and continued the early season form with a mature performance at the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race. Taking a win in the mountains on stage six and a top ten overall with 9th place.
Bannan: “That period really showed the progression of our younger riders, Adam and Simon and Caleb and it was great to see the continued development of these guy’s and to see the Yates brothers start their winning ways in Europe.”
Pais Vasco, Romandie and Ewan strikes at the Giro d’Italia
Veteran Swiss star Michael Albasini always hits form in late spring in time for the Ardennes Classics and the Tour of Romandie and this year proved to be no different. A stage two win at Pais Vasco preceded eighth in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and swiftly followed by an opening stage win in Romandie as Simon Yates went on to finish second overall.
Ewan’s only previous Grand Tour stage win came at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana, but he chose a special time to get his second at the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia
Bannan: “Michael is really an evergreen rider, he’s like a good bottle of wine that gets better as he ages, his consistency and professionalism and the way he approaches the sport is very impressive.”
“Caleb had a little bit of bad luck in the first week of the Giro, but the team certainly got it together on stage seven and it was great to see Caleb get his first Giro stage victory and also the contribution from the team.”
History repeats itself at the Tour de France
After brother Adam achieved it in 2016 it was now Simon’s turn to earn the mantel of the best young rider at the Tour de France and he didn’t disappoint. A string of consistent performances saw Simon become only the second Briton to win the jersey and the twins the only brothers in history to share the honour.
Bannan: “Simon’s development at this year’s Tour de France was something special to watch and I think we will see another step up from him next year. For twins to win back-to-back white jerseys at the Tour de France is something very special.”
Haig rides high in Poland and a triplet for Ewan at the Tour of Britain
Jack Haig broke his WorldTour duck with a memorable solo ride on the penultimate stage of the Tour of Poland, taking his first professional win and eighth overall before going on to solid performances at the Vuelta a Espana.
British soil has proved productive for Ewan in 2017 with two-second places, the points classification and time in the leader’s jersey at the Tour de Yorkshire before going on to take three stage wins at the Tour of Britain in September.
Bannan: “Caleb continued his winning ways and it was great to see him and the team perform so well and consistently at the Tour of Britain, but one of the highlights of the year for me was the progression of Jack Haig."
"Jack stepped up to another level this year and his aggressiveness and confidence at the Tour of Poland is something we will continue to enjoy in 2018.”
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com