A return to the mountainous Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco for ORICA-GreenEDGE

Fri 1 Apr 2016

ORICA-GreenEDGE go into the week long stage race Vuelta Ciclista Al Pais Vasco on Monday, with a balanced team confident of performing well in one of the hardest one week races on the calendar.

In last year's race Michael Matthews won the opening stage and spent two days in the yellow leader’s jersey while Simon Yates finished fifth overall also winning the best young rider category.

Last year's performance has put Yates in a protected role for the 2016 edition with twin brother Adam Yates on hand to provide support. The pure mountain stages on Tuesday and Friday will be the key days for the Yates brothers.

Sport director Neil Stephens is confident that the team can perform well.

“We have a really good mix of riders for this year’s race, the team is very well balanced,” said Stephens. “It’s always a hard event due to the terrain and the climbers will be very important for us.”

“It’s a really competitive field with lots of the grand tour contenders taking part. We are aiming to be up there with the best guys but we know it won’t be an easy task.”

“Simon (Yates) achieved a great result here in 2015 and all in all it was a good week for us,” continued Stephens. “It would fantastic if we can produce that kind of performance again this year.”

“We will have to be on our game from day one, there are eight categorised climbs on the opening stage and the racing will start from the first kilometre.”

The 852.3kilometre race is spread over six stages, traversing the mountainous region of North-West Spain. Except for the individual time trial on the closing day, each stage is peppered with several categorised climbs. Renowned for the relentlessly undulating terrain, the Tour of The Basque country runs through the Pyrenean mountain range and will not provide much opportunity for respite.

Santos Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans is also in a protected role for stage opportunities with experienced Spanish riders Ruben Plaza and Amets Txurruka providing support and local knowledge. Michael Albasini, Damien Howson and Christian Meier complete the line up for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

The opening stage is on Monday 4th of March and covers 144kilometres from Etxebarria to Markina-Xemein, which lies between Bilbao and San Sebastian.

ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (4-9 April):

Michael Albasini (SUI, 34)
Simon Gerrans (AUS, VIC, 35)
Damien Howson (AUS, SA, 23)
Christian Meier (CAN, 31)
Ruben Plaza (ESP, 35)
Amets Txurruka (ESP, 32)
Adam Yates (GBR, 23)
Simon Yates (GBR, 23) 

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco stages:

Monday, 4 April: Etxebarria to Markina-Xemein, 144km
Tuesday, 5 April: Markina-Xemein to Baranbio-Garrastatxu, 174.3km
Wednesday, 6 April: Vittoria-Gasteiz to Lesaka, 193.5km
Thursday, 7 April: Lesaka to Orio, 165km
Friday, 8 April: Orio to Arrate, 159km
Saturday, April: Eibar to Eibar, ITT, 16.5km