ORICA-GreenEDGE at 'home' in CatalunyaSat 21 Mar 2015
ORICA-GreenEDGE might be an Australian outfit, but many of its riders will be more familiar with the roads at next week’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya than those Down Under.
With five of the eight-man team calling Girona, the host of stage three, 'home' and the town a ‘secondary base’ for the outfit in Europe, ORICA-GreenEDGE will have a dual focus for the well-known roads of the week-long Tour.
“A lot of the riders have lived here for some time now,” sport director David McPartland said. “They have probably spent more time here than their birth countries in the past years so it’s sort of a home race really.”
“It’s a hard Tour but there is really one big mountain stage half way through it and we are coming into it with good options all round.”
The first consideration will be a general classification result with Colombian climber Esteban Chaves.
Having withdrawn from Thursday’s GP Nobili due to illness, the 2014 Tour de Suisse and Tour of California stage winner will not benefit from the perfect final preparation but the team is hopeful the 25-year-old will have fully recovered before the race begins on Monday.
“Our biggest ambition for Catalunya is a good general classification result with Chaves,” McPartland said.
“We have our fingers and toes crossed at the moment that he will be fit and healthy to go on Monday. He has been down with the flu and a fever this week, which certainly isn’t an ideal run in, but we are confident he can post a good result here.”
Chaves will receive valuable support from 2015 Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Cameron Meyer, Australian Damien Howson and 2013 Italian champion Ivan Santaromita, the late replacement for Simon Gerrans, in the mountains.
Alongside Chaves, ORICA-GreenEDGE will also focus on early stage opportunities with young sprinter Caleb Ewan.
The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya will be Ewan’s 2015 European debut, following two early season stage wins at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia and an additional two at the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia.
McPartland said a podium would be a good result for the 20-year-old in his first WorldTour event for the year.
“Along with Chaves we are also aiming for some podium or good stage results for Caleb Ewan,” McPartland said.
“The team has been doing some really good work with him over the last couple of months in terms of working out what his strengths and weaknesses are, what ours as a team are and working through how we are going to keep developing our sprint.
“Hopefully we can dial that in here. It would be a dream come true if we could win a stage.”
‘Local’ Girona trio Sam Bewley, Brett Lancaster and Christian Meier will play an important role in setting up the speedster.
The first two stages look most likely for sprint opportunities before the challenging and undulating stage three in Girona that will likely see a select group at the finish.
The fourth stage from Tona to La Molina is poised as the most critical for general classification before two further undulating stages that could suit a breakaway. The final stage in Barcelona concludes with a solid circuit, which combined with poor weather last year, saw few riders complete.
ORICA-GreenEDGE has previously tasted success at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya with Michael Albasini winning overall in 2012 and Gerrans winning stage six in 2013.
ORICA-GreenEDGE at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (23-29 March):