ORICA-GreenEDGE against the numbers at Prueba Villafranca

Fri 24 Jul 2015

As the launch of the final block of the season commences, ORICA-GreenEDGE will be up against the numbers when they line up at the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika in Spain tomorrow.

In what will be the first race after training blocks for most of the peloton, the Australian outfit will start with seven riders despite a very late change in regulation allowing teams of up to ten.

Regardless, sport director Neil Stephens is confident the team will come out firing.

“Because it’s the first race back for most of the peloton in a while, it’s generally a race that the top placers are the bike riders who know how to train well,” Stephens said.

“I know that our guys have been training really well over the period of July and are getting ready to launch into their final block to the end of the season.  I am pretty confident they are in good shape and they’re all looking forward to racing well and hard.

“The challenge for us will be that in a late change in regulation for the race, we will be up against teams up with up to ten riders. It was originally an eight-rider team makeup, but due to race schedules and roster considerations, we will actually be down to seven.

“We are going to be outnumbered but we are certainly going to give it a shake.”

Amongst the team lineup is 2015 Giro d’Italia pink jersey wearer Simon Clarke, former Italian champion Ivan Santaromita, Classics specialist Jens Keukeleire and Danish neo-pro Magnus Cort.

Also crucial will be the work of Damian Howson, Cameron Meyer and Christian Meier.

The 170km course includes a series of laps, including a climb. Stephens, who lives close to the area, said it’s a race for the hardy.

“It’s a race I know really well,” Stephens said. “I have won it a few times as a bike rider but also as a director, the last time with Daniel Teklehaimanot two years ago.”

“It has five climbs that we have done of several occasions, but the addition this year is a steep climb up to Gaintza.

“You have to be a rider that can climb well, you need to be pretty resilient because you have a lot of times over the climbs and with the twist of the really hard final climb, it’s going to be interesting how it plays out.

“We will need to cover the breaks to make sure we are not any more disadvantaged in numbers trying to chase but I’m reasonably confident that if it doesn’t come down to a breakaway, we have riders who can take it to them.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE at Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika (25 July):

Simon Clarke
Magnus Cort
Damien Howson
Jens Keukeleire
Christian Meier
Cameron Meyer
Ivan Santaromita