Stage Wins a Priority for ORICA-GreenEDGE in Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

Mon 24 Mar 2014

A day after the Classics men showcase their talents at Milan-Sanremo, a different breed of riders will line up in Spain for a seven day tour in Catalunya. ORICA-GreenEDGE, an Australian registered team, considers the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya as close to a hometown race as any in Europe with many of the team’s riders basing themselves in Girona during the season. Six of the eight riders on the Catalunya roster call Girona home.

“Most of these guys know the roads quite well,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “Brett Lancaster and Christian Meier know the area really, really well. The young guys have been up in the mountains getting comfortable with the stages. As a team, we have every single stage covered. That’s a huge advantage. We’re keen to have a good tour.”

Catalunya is not only a hometown race, but it’s also a race at which the team has had reason to celebrate on multiple occasions. In 2012 Michael Albasini took overall honours after winning the opening two stages and holding onto the leader’s jersey until the final day of racing. Simon Gerrans further added to the team’s success with a stage six victory from a bunch kick in 2013. In that same year, Christian Meier won the points jersey and the TDF 100 classification. ORICA-GreenEDGE looks to build on past success in the 2014 edition.

“We will go into Catalunya with the goal of getting a win on the board with a stage victory,” said McPartland. “We are coming in with a roster of guys who can win on all terrain.”

Few pure sprinters will venture into Spain for this mountainous journey through Catalonia. While the tour lacks any stages that could be categorized as exclusively flat, there are a few of mixed stages that will favour any number of riders from the ORICA-GreenEDGE squad of eight.

“We are bringing three guys who are suited to the stages that might see a bunch sprint at the finish,” added McPartland. “Leigh Howard will be our protected sprinter if it comes down to a sprint. We have Lancaster and Sam Bewley to support him on those days.”

In truth, Catalunya is a race for the riders that fancy themselves overall contenders. The race is chock-full of rolling to mountainous terrain. The race includes 25 classified climbs and two back-to-back summit finishes on stages three and four that will likely sort out the general classification. ORICA-GreenEDGE is not looking to win the overall, but the team is certainly looking for success in the mountains.

“Clarkey [Simon Clarke] is our best chance in the mountains,” said McPartland. “We also have Meier and Adam Yates who can go in a break and can climb well from there. Howson and Chaves will round out our five guys who are suited to breaks, mountains or both. Chaves, in particular, is absolutely flying after coming off a big break and a good overall result in Langkawi.”

Will past success in Catalunya, ORICA-GreenEDGE will start this hometown race with a little extra confidence in their back pocket as well as some added pressure.

“It’s a good thing to have – the confidence and the pressure,” added McPartland. “The pressure is on to do what we’ve done before, if not more. Previous success and racing on home turf serves as motivation for the guys, and the group we’ve got coming in is really motivated.”

“For this race to be considered a success, stage win or not, we have to be in the race,” continued McPartland. “We want to animate the racing. We are renowned as a team that’s involved in the thick of the action. We want to continue to live up to that expectation.”

“And we want to introduce the young guys to WorldTour racing,” added McPartland. “For Damien, Chaves and Adam, it is their first WorldTour race. It’ll be good for these guys to get in amongst the action straightaway.”