Paris-Nice Preview: Chasing Stage WinsThu 6 Mar 2014
ORICA-GreenEDGE opened up the 2014 UCI WorldTour calendar in January with Simon Gerrans’ overall win at the Tour Down Under. On the heels of that win, the Australian based squad lines up for Paris-Nice this weekend atop the leaders board of the WorldTour rankings.
For the first time since 1955, the “Race to the Sun” will not feature an individual time trial. Unlike previous years, the eight day stage race will not end with a decisive ITT up the famed climb, Col d’Èze. Despite the elimination of both time trials and any summit finishes, many of the stages boast tough, undulating routes which will serve as a launching pad for the puncheurs. In fact, race organisers, ASO, have billed the revamped route as a ‘race for the daring’.
The tour this year opens with four, flatter type stages where sprint finishes are likely. Looking to better the team’s stage win and podium from last year, ORICA-GreenEDGE will field two sprinters instead of the usual one specifically for these stages. Matt Goss and Michael Matthews will be the designated men for the bunch kicks.
“The main objective of Paris-Nice this year is to win a couple stages,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “Basically, we’re going to support Gossy on the flat, flat stages and Bling when there is a little uphill finish.”
When the terrain proves too tough for the sprinters, ORICA-GreenEDGE will look to Simon Gerrans, Michael Albasini and Jens Keukeleire. The trio have the ability to win from a break or a small bunch.
“Gerro, Alba and Keukeleire are our three guys for the hillier stages,” added McPartland. “They can get in moves from further out. They are our puncheurs. From a break, we will back them for the stage win.”
Rounding out the ORICA-GreenEDGE roster will be Mathew Hayman, Mitch Docker and Simon Yates.
“Out on the road, Hayman is our captain,” said McPartland. “He’ll be our guy to keep the team on the same page. Mitch will be there to lead out both Bling and Gossy. Simon, racing in his first WorldTour race, will have more of a free role. He’ll be good on the hard terrain in the second half of the tour and will get plenty of opportunity throughout the race as a whole.”
The race from Mantes La Jolie to Nice is a substantially different Paris-Nice. Not only is it one of the longest editions in history totalling a monumental 1477 kilometres, but it is does not feature the usual set pieces that foreshadow the general classification. In a race where the final outcome is likely to be determined by the riders and not the course, the team will need to be attentive from start to finish in order to land the coveted stage wins.
“Although on paper it looks as if the last four stages are more for the GC riders, where and when GC is determined is a lot more uncertain,” concluded McPartland. “We cannot say with clarity that ‘this’ is where GC will happen. It’s a much more open race and we need to be attentive the whole time.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Paris-Nice: