In His Own Words: Sport Director Neil Stephens Previews Tirreno-AdriaticoSat 2 Mar 2013
ORICA-GreenEDGE had a spectacular debut at Tirreno-Adriatico last year. The team won the opening stage team time trial and put Matt Goss in the blue race leader’s jersey. They went on to defend the race lead through the first two road stages before ceding it after the mountainous fourth stage. Cameron Meyer showcased his general classification potential, racing with guts and determination, to round out the top ten after finishing third in the individual time trial on the final day of racing. Neil Stephens will direct the team to what he hopes will be another successful week of Italian racing. In his own words, he reviews the roster and the team objectives.
Tirreno-Adriatico is a great festival of fantastic sprint stages mixed with short, sharp climbs as the race travels through the Apennines. This type of racing is suited to the punchy, strong and fast riders. The early season stage race has a special place in the hearts of the Italian public, who have been somewhat starved of their usual cycling fix over the European winter.
We approach this race a bit different than last year. We have no rider specifically targeting the general classification in Tirreno. That said, with the form Daryl Impey has at the moment, you never know what can happen. Our major target will be to pull off at least one stage win.
While we’ll happily take any stage win, our main focus is on the team time trial. The entire squad will travel to Italy four days before the event to do some specific training over the course and to fine tune the motors. We are highly motivated to back up our win from 2012. We’re also very conscious that there are other teams who have similar goals and will be very hard to beat.
We’re fielding a strong and extremely determined team in Italy. Rider by rider, I’ll review their roles here:
Matt Goss: After the Tour Down Under, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, Matt will take advantage of the race kilometres in his legs to fine tune his sprinting. Tirreno is a race that is well suited to his capabilities, but he will be up against some stiff opposition from other sprinters.
Mitch Docker: Mitch has been fulfilling his role as a lead out rider for the team incredibly well this year. In several races, he has assisted Leigh Howard in achieving some great results – including two wins in Majorca. He is looking forward to taking on a similar role in Tirreno with different teammates.
Daryl Impey: Daryl will pull on his new colours as the South African Time Trial Champion for the first time in the team time trial on stage one of Tirreno. Daryl is in excellent shape. We will use him in a working role as well as hopefully give him a chance to shine for himself on certain stages.
Brett Lancaster: Brett is coming off a slight injury sustained during the Tour of Oman, but he has trained well in his Gerona base over the last week. As always, Brett is very motivated to add horse power to the sprint train and the team time trial.
Sebastian Langeveld: Sebastian is taking a break from the Northern Classics to put in some solid work for the boys. While he already has great form, his work in Tirreno should also leave him at a high level building back up to the major Belgium Classics for which he has personal ambitions.
Jens Mouris: Jens shares a smilar role to Brett Lancaster. Big Jens is always willing and able to guide his teammates through the final kilometres.
Stuart O’Grady: Stuey is a valuable piece in any team. During Tirreno, he will act as team captain on the road and make the calls in any crucial moments. His form is coming up nicely, and he should leave Italy with optimal fitness before the classics.
Svein Tuft: Svein has had a solid start to the season. After taking a win in Argentina in the time trial, he has been quietly supporting wins for teammates. Svein’s qualities will be called upon during the team time trial on stage one, during the week while working for the boys, and finally for the individual time trial in San Benedetto on the last day of racing.
The high level of competition and the long, hard days in the saddle make Tirreno-Adriatico great preparation for the single day races that come later in the month. The ambience and the Italian food create a special vibe that we’ve come to associate especially with this stage race. I hope for a strong showing from our team and expect a good week of racing from the entire professional peloton.
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Tirreno-Adriatico: