ORICA-GreenEDGE Finish in Top Ten at Giro Team Time Trial

Sun 5 May 2013

ORICA-GreenEDGE believed they had a realistic shot of finishing in the top ten on the Island d’Ischia team time trial. While the team time trial discipline is typically a strength of the Australian outfit, the stage two Giro d’Italia course featured undulating roads, one steep climb and constant turns, favouring a team of climbers rather than time trial specialists. As the penultimate team to leave the start house, ORICA-GreenEDGE slotted into ninth in Forio.

“We tried out some new tactics today,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens, as the team travelled by ferry from Ischia to Sorrento. “With the experimenting, I would say it’s a good result. I expected us to finish somewhere between fifth and tenth. We were in that range. We’ll look at the positives and negatives today and determine where we can improve.”

The technical course featured challenges throughout the 17.4 kilometre route, with more hills in the first half of the stage. Stephens asked the team to use up three riders during this part of the effort, saving six riders for the second half of the race.

“Sometimes you have to look at cycling and realise that just because we have done something forever and a day, that doesn’t mean we have to do it all the time,” explained Stephens. “Many years ago, Greg LeMond brought in triathlon bars. A few years ago, you didn’t see anyone wearing skinsuits in road races. Closed helmets have been introduced in the peloton during the last year. It’s important to play around with tradition and see what works and what doesn’t.”

“We came up with a different idea today and full credit to the guys for accepting the plan,” Stephens continued. “They didn’t really want to experiment with a Giro stage, but we did it and it was good. We learn from trying out something new.”

Brett Lancaster, Jens Mouris and Svein Tuft traded pulls during their first eight kilometres. Work completed, the trio fell off pace in the second half of the race, leaving Luke Durbridge, Pieter Weening, Christian Meier, Jens Keukeleire, Matt Goss and Leigh Howard to take the team home.

“The idea was that we would use up our big powerhouses early and keep some of the other guys fresh for the last part of the course,” said Stephens. “This would work on some courses, and on others, it might not. We were searching for a way to try to get the most out of our stronger guys. All our riders are on good form, but there’s a bit of a difference in power when it comes to efforts like this.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE crossed the line in 22:33, 28” down on stage winners Team Sky.

Before the race, the logistics of racing on an island one hour away by boat from the Italian mainland monopolized discussion.

“Given the circumstances, the Giro did a very good job,” said Stephens. “This is a beautiful island, and we don’t blame them for wanting to show it off to an international audience. Sometimes we’re a little too simplistic. We want to know where we’re going to park our bus and our truck. We want to make sure we minimise stress for our riders and staff. That certainly wasn’t the case today. There was a lot of stress today, but in the end, it was a great race and a great result – and it’s done.”