In His Own Words: Neil Stephens Previews GP CittÃ di CamaioreTue 4 Mar 2014
With plenty of podiums, including a stage win, at the Giro d’Italia and a huge victory at Milan-Sanremo during the team’s maiden season, there leaves little doubt that the boys from ORICA-GreenEDGE have a fondness for Italian races. As an organization, the Australian outfit has had a strong affiliation with the Italian federation for years.
Looking ahead to the upcoming GP Città di Camaiore, the team has a seemingly simple goal in mind: to make their presence felt. In his own words, Sport Director Neil Stephens talks about what will make this race a success for his squad and the riders he bringing to the Italian one day race.
The course in Camaiore is very similar to that in Lugano. It’s a circuit race that suits the fast, punchy climbing type of guys. The race features five laps around the town of Camaiore and six times up the 7.1% Monte Pitoro. Esteban Chaves, our new Colombian signing, won from a small group here two years ago.
We have a soft spot for Italian races. In every race we do in Italy, we want to do particularly well. We need to make our mark. In Camaiore, we’re putting the sharp point on to get ready for Paris-Nice and Tirreno. Racing Lugano and Camaiore is putting the fire back in the riders' bellies, getting them ready as teammates and making sure everything is going well before the major events upcoming.
The roster for Camaiore is changing slightly from Lugano. We are bringing in Simon Gerrans and Jens Keukeleire in place of Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer. We hope to bring the roster back to eight with the return of Michael Albasini from his stomach bug. As for roles, each returning rider will have a similar job as they did in Lugano.
Gerro is looking forward to using this race as part of his build-up to Paris Nice and MSR. It will be his only race between the Sun Tour and Paris Nice. Camaiore is a race that suits him well, although he could very well show up ready to work for his teammates. Gerro has been training well, but as we have seen many times before, he’s not afraid to give the nod to a teammate if he’s not honing the sort of form he needs to win. If you don’t see him on the top step, it’s not because he’s having a day off – it’s just that this isn’t a prime target and he’s waiting for another day that suits him better.
Jens has had a great winter and a great build-up to the season. He’s obviously getting ready for big races like Paris-Nice and the races in Belgium. Jens’ climbing has improved, which will allow him to mix it up in some of the harder finishes, and he’s been working on speed, too. Jens is in great shape and his morale is really high. His main objectives may be further down the road, but when he’s in great shape, he can do a lot of damage.
Although Ivan Santaromita raced with us in Lugano, we would be remiss not to mention him here. The Italian champion will of course look to have a strong race in his home country. He has big ambitions for a result in Camaiore as he wears the tricolore jersey.
ORICA-GreenEDGE for GP Città di Camaiore: