ORICA-GreenEDGE with numbers on their side at Il LombardiaThu 1 Oct 2015
ORICA-GreenEDGE will be looking for strength in numbers when they line up for the final one-day race of the season, Il Lombardia this Sunday in Italy.
The fifth and final monument of 2015 is a massive 245km journey from Bergamo to Como, with a particularly challenge final 50km.
Amongst a strong ORICA-GreenEDGE line up is the team’s most talented young climbers in British twins Adam and Simon Yates and Colombian Esteban Chaves, who recently finish fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana.
“There is a lot of pressure put on some pretty young shoulders with the two Yates boys and Chaves,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “We will be looking to those guys because we believe it’s going to be a really hard final.”
“The riders we are going up against are good climbers and they are fast as well. Our three guys are good climbers, but they are young and a lot of things can happen at this time of the year.
“The strength that we have is that we could potentially have three of them there in the final so communication between those guys is the key to our race.”
Despite the difficult nature of the final 50km that includes Colma di Sormano, a 7.2km climb with an average gradient of 17% and peak of almost 30%, Stephens said there was a chance the race could still result in a ‘blow-by-blow’ affair.
In that scenario the Australian outfit will look to veteran and punchy riders Michael Albasini, who finished sixth last year, and Simon Gerrans, 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion.
“Anyone who has been to that part of the world knows it’s a very pretty area but it’s a very solid area to ride your bike,” Stephens said. “When you add that to a very long day in the saddle and at the end of a very long season you have a lot of weary guys riding in the finale in Como.”
“We are fortunate to have guys like Albasini. He knows what it’s like to be in the final of these races, he knows what it takes.
“He and Gerrans will be there as the more experienced guys, and certainly if the race pans out that way and the young guys struggle, they can certainly take up the running.”
Completing the formidable line up are the extremely reliable and hard-working assets of Christian Meier, Jens Keukeleire and Damien Howson.
“One of the great things about Christian is that if you look through the race calendar he never, touch wood, seems to have a bad day,” Stephens said. “He is always there, he knows his job and he does it well. We can really rely on him and know the team will be well looked after in the first 150 -170km.”
“I was also really excited to see the way Jens and Damien were working for Chaves in the Tour of Spain and we know those guys can be there in the crunch period through the 170-200km mark.
“Those guys, and the form they have, are going to be a crucial platform to set the rest of the team up in the final.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE at Il Lombardia (4 October 2015):