In His Own Words: Christian Meier Previews Catalunya

Sun 17 Mar 2013

ORICA-GreenEDGE had a fantastic start and successful finish of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya last year. Michael Albasini won the opening stage, thereby taking the leader’s jersey, followed up with another win on stage two and, with the unwavering help from his teammates, carried the leader’s jersey all the way to the finish in Barcelona.

The seven day stage race is the longest running race in Spain and the fourth oldest stage race in the world – the first edition was held in 1911. With the race now run in March, Catalunya has become a race where the Grand Tour contenders can test their legs in preparation for the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) will be kitted up on the start line in Calella.

Similar to last year, the strongmen from ORICA-Green EDGE will focus less on the overall and more on individual stage wins. More than half of the ORICA-GreenEDGE squad lives in Gerona and spend many hours training on the roads over which the race is run. Racing in and around their European base gives Catalunya a home race feel for the team. In his own words, Christian Meier, one of the Gerona ‘locals’, previews his fourth start of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

We came to this race looking at stage wins, and we have several options. There are at least three stages well suited for Alby [Allan Davis] and Michael [Matthews] in the form of sprints. Brett [Lancaster] and Sam [Bewley] will add good horsepower to the lead outs. Other stages could suit someone more like Gerro [Simon Gerrans] or we could see a break stay away until the finish.

Wes [Wesley Sulzberger] and I will handle any work on the front if we decide to bring the race back together for a field sprint. We’ll also try to get into any breakaways on the hillier days. Trav [Travis Meyer] is coming off a bit of illness but when he feels good he will most likely have a similar role to Wes and me.

With the exception of the two big mountain stages, we have a chance on any other day. We have sprinters who can climb very well and Gerro for the days that may be a bit too much for them. We’ll definitely use our fast guys on the first two days to see if we can’t repeat on Alba’s [Michael Albasini’s] success from last year.

This race feels very much like a home race to me. Knowing the roads allows us to be calmer throughout the race and more selective when we pick our moments to attack. We know the crucial sections of the stages to time our moves appropriately. That being said, Catalunya is a very big region of Spain, and even the local guys haven’t ridden on every road included in the race. It’s nice to see new parts of the region that would normally be out of range on a regular training ride. Finishing the race in Barcelona, racing around Montjuic, is pretty cool, too.

To call this race a success, we’ll need to come away with a good stage win. It’s also important that Gerro finishes the race feeling stronger as he builds towards the Ardennes Classics.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya:

Allan Davis
Brett Lancaster
Christian Meier
Michael Matthews
Sam Bewley
Simon Gerrans
Travis Meyer
Wesley Sulzberger