Ambitious ORICA-GreenEDGE aim to replicate 2014 success at Tour de RomandieSat 25 Apr 2015
Last year ORICA-GreenEDGE lined up at the Tour de Romandie hoping to make an impact on the road.
Walking away with three stage wins courtesy of Michael Albasini, it’s safe to say the team’s ambitions for the 2015 edition are a little higher.
The structure of the race is one that suits the Australian outfit. It opens with a team time trial followed by four road stages; three lumpy and one mountaintop finish, and concludes with an individual time trial.
The inclusion of Canadian time trial champion Svein Tuft, former Australian time trial champion Michael Hepburn, New Zealand’s Sam Bewley, and Brett Lancaster, a member of the 2013 Tour de France team trial time victory, sets a solid foundation for a good opening ride.
“It’s no surprise that it is a big objective of ours to do well, if not win, the team’s time trial at the Tour of Romandie for two reasons,” sport director Neil Stephens said.
“Firstly, we go in with a really strong team for the discipline and also because we are getting ready for the Giro d’Italia team’s time trial, so we expect to do well here.”
When the race hits the road, ORICA-GreenEDGE will enjoy the punchy firepower of Albasini and 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Simon Gerrans for the three lumpy stages.
For Albasini, it’s a happy hunting ground, the 34-year-old’s success last year seeing some people to refer to the race as the ‘Tour of Albasini’.
“The amazing thing with Michael Albasini last year was the first stage he won in a 30-up sprint, the next stage he won with a 160-180 rider sprint and the third and final win was a breakaway,” Stephens said.
“It wasn’t as if there was a particular type of stage that suited him, it’s just that he is a great bike rider, he was in great shape and it’s a race that suits him.
“The way he is going into this event this year, form wise, he is going as good as ever and he is certainly very motivated to do well on his home turf.”
For Gerrans, Romandie will hope to see an all-but fully fit 2012 Milano-Sanremo champion.
“At the Amstel Gold Race Simon was already quite good and hopefully at Liege on Sunday he is not going to far from his best form,” Stephens said. “I’m certainly really excited that in the period of Romandie and onto the Giro we are going to start to see the best Simon Gerrans.”
“With both Gerrans and Albasini I am pretty sure we can count on some pretty exciting stages.”
The penultimate day of racing, the final road stage, sits as a crucial day for general classification and is one that will see the strong ORICA-GreenEDGE outfit shift their protection to British climber Simon Yates, ably supported on the climb by 2013 Italian champion Ivan Santaromita.
“We all fall into the mistake of seeing Simon as a general classification rider,” Stephens said. “He very much is that, but like in the second last stage of Basque, had it not been for the breakaway up the road he would have won that demanding stage.
“So for Simon, on the path to a good general classification, he certainly doesn’t forget that going for stage wins is also a goal for the team and personally for him also.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE at Tour de Romandie (28 April – 3 May):