ORICA-GreenEDGE wrap up successful Vuelta

Sun 13 Sep 2015

The 2015 Vuelta a Espana came to a close in Madrid this evening, ORICA-GreenEDGE finishing with three stage wins, six days in the red leader’s jersey and a breakthrough fifth place overall.

Three weeks ago, the Australian outfit started the final Grand Tour of the season with hopes of a stage win and top ten overall. They did that and more.

“If someone said after the Giro d’Italia I would finish fifth in the Vuelta a Espana I wouldn’t believe,” Colombian Esteban Chaves said. “If they said I would win two stages, I wouldn’t believe. That I would wear the red jersey for six days, I wouldn’t believe.”

“I need to pinch myself for this. It’s one dream. But this is because we worked really hard, not just the last two months but also the last two years.

“This is not the finish. This is the start line. For sure we will continue to work like this. The more beautiful thing is the results to come.”

25-year-old Chaves was the first breakthrough of the Spanish tour, winning on stage two to take the red race leader’s jersey. He would go on to lose it before reclaiming in the best possible fashion, a second win on stage six. 

21-year-old Australian neo-pro Caleb Ewan also contributed to the trio of stage wins, outsprinting some of cycling’s biggest names to win stage five on Grand Tour debut.

“It was a really exciting first week,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “Emotions were high from the very first team time trial – whether it would count, whether we would go for the win – and then to come so close.”

“To bounce back the next day to take the stage and red jersey was incredible. Then for Caleb to take a stage… A guy who came in with a bit of pressure, to come out of the shadows and win the only stage he was up for was quite amazing. All of this capped off with another amazing stage to Esteban.

“Then we took a step back, regrouped and realised we could achieve something special across these full three weeks.”

Six days in the race lead were complemented by a consistent performance throughout the whole three-weeks by Chaves and the team.

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s previous best Grand Tour general classification result was a 38th place to Dutchman Pieter Weening at the 2013 Giro d’Italia, over one-hour down on winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team).

“We went in thinking a top ten would be a huge challenge given the quality of the line up,” Stephens said.  “It’s been a bit of a change in mentality for the team.” 

“We’ve always gone into Grand Tours looking for stage wins or leader’s jerseys which we have done incredibly well with. Now this is the next step and rung in the ladder.”

How it happened:

After the champagne celebrations an early breakaway moved away but never looked threatening to disturb the expected bunch sprint.

In the final two laps the race came back together, ORICA-GreenEDGE took front position to place South African Daryl Impey.

Impey approached the line in the wheel of John Degenkolb but couldn’t pass the wheel of the Giant Alpecin rider who took the victory.

Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) finished safely to confirm his overall tour victory.

“We had a crack with Impey today,” Stephens said. “The boys did a good job but unfortunately lost each other in the final corner.”

“You have to take you hat off to John Degenkolb, Daryl had him in his sights right to the finish line but just couldn’t come over him.”