A return to the roots for ORICA-GreenEDGE at the 2016 Tour of Romandie

Sat 23 Apr 2016

ORICA-GreenEDGE will line up at the Tour of Romandie next week with a team mixed with youth and experience going back to their roots looking for stage successes.

The 70th edition of the Tour of Romandie begins next Tuesday, six stages over six day’s of racing in the French speaking region of Switzerland.

The week-long stage race starts with a 3.95kilometre prologue in La Chaud-de-Fonds and moves on to two mountain stages, an individual time-trial and two rolling stages for the sprinters before finishing in Geneva.

The profile of the 2016 race has changed somewhat by moving away from the favoured closing stage time trial of the previous years and instead concludes with a 172kilometre road stage.

In his home race Michael Albasini was the stand out performer for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 2015 with two stage wins and second place in the individual time-trial to continue his record of strong displays in the race.

Albasini wore the yellow leader's jersey for three days whilst British climber Simon Yates finished in sixth place overall after strong performances on the queen stage and the final days individual time-trial. Albasini will lead the team with former Australian national road race champion Simon Gerrans on the lookout for opportunities on stages one and five.

Sport director Neil Stephens believes the team can utilise the balance of youth and experience in the squad and provide another solid display in the six-day race.

“We have a really good mix of riders for this year's race,” said Stephens. “The young guys are full of fighting spirit and the older guys have the same spirit but they also have the experience which is invaluable.”

“Michael (Albasini) has a great history in this race with numerous stage wins and podiums over the years and he deserves to be our leader and we have Simon (Gerrans) coming off the back of the Ardennes with some good racing in his legs.

“We don’t have a clear general classification contender this year so we will be looking for stage results and to capitalise on any opportunities we can create for ourselves.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve produced some really good performances, there is a great attitude about the team and we are going into the race with good options for the different stages.”

Accompanying Albasini and Gerrans will be young Australians Damien Howson, Jack Haig and Michael Hepburn.

Hepburn makes his return to road racing after a successful period on the track around the London World Championships as part of the gold medal winning Australian team pursuit squad. Canadian stalwart Christian Meier will provide valuable support alongside Jens Keukeleire and Daryl Impey.

Friday’s stage three individual time-trial will be an important day for any team harbouring ambitions for the overall with a 15kilometre uphill race against the clock in the ski resort town of Sion.

Followed immediately by the mountainous Queen Stage on Saturday with a testing summit finish in Villars-sur-Ollon. The race will cover a total of 705.6kilometres.

The Tour of Romandie runs from Tuesday the 26th of April until Sunday the 1st of May.

ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Tour of Romandie (April 26th to May 1st):

Michael Albasini (SUI, 35)
Simon Gerrans (AUS, VIC, 35)
Jack Haig (AUS, VIC, 22)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, QLD, 24)
Damien Howson (AUS, SA, 23)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 31)
Jens Keukeleire (BEL, 27)
Christian Meier (CAN, 31)

Tour of Romandie stages:

Tuesday, 26 April: Prologue, La Chaux-de-Fonds, 3.95km
Wednesday, 27 April: La Chaux-de-Fonds to Moudon, 166.9km
Thursday, 28 April: Moudon to Morgins, 173.9km
Friday, 29 April: Sion, ITT, 15.1km
Saturday, 30 April: Conthey to Villars-sur-Ollon, 173.32km
Sunday, 1 May: Ollon to Geneva, 172km