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ORICA-GreenEDGE Names Tour de France Team
"It was difficult to select the final nine," said Sports Director Matt White. "We have more than nine riders that are ready for the Tour de France. It's a good problem to have. When picking the team, we have to identify the team goals and pick the best riders to achieve those goals over the three weeks. I'm confident with the selection we've made that we can meet the objectives we set for July."
The nine ORICA-GreenEDGE riders for the Tour de France are Baden Cooke, Brett Lancaster, Daryl Impey, Matt Goss, Michael Albasini, Pieter Weening, Sebastian Langeveld, Simon Gerrans and Stuart O'Grady
White believes the stage win goals the team has set will allow each of the riders an opportunity to make their mark in July.
"Matt Goss in an obvious focus for stage wins," said White. "We have a lot of opportunists in the team of nine. We've said from the start that the overall is not a goal. We're on the hunt for stage wins, and we have a lot of winners in those eight other riders. They'll have every chance to show their value and class over three weeks of racing."
In his second Tour de France, Matt Goss will be the designated leader for the sprint stages. Goss made his Tour de France debut in 2011 as an integral part of the hugely successful HTC-Highroad sprint train that saw Mark Cavendish notch five stage wins and the green points jersey. Goss' Giro d'Italia stage win in May demonstrated that he is clearly coming into the form required to sit final wheel on the team's sprint train and go for a win.
"While we have a lot of goals for Gossy in the Tour, his main objective is clear," said White. "He is on the hunt for stage wins."
Baden Cooke, Brett Lancaster and Daryl Impey, the latter riding his first Tour de France, will provide key support for Goss in the fast, flat finishes.
"Baden is having one of the best seasons he has had in many years," noted White. "The sprint train will benefit from having the experience of a green jersey winner in its midst. Like Baden, Brett is a crucial part of our sprint train. He's dedicated to his role, and he knows how to handle pressure. They will both be integral to our success in the sprints"
"Daryl has been the biggest revelation in our team this year," White continued. "He came to us without a lot of experience in setting up a sprint but has clearly solidified his position as one of the world's best leadout riders in a very short period of time. He has made himself an obvious pick for our Tour de France team."
Beyond the sprint train, the team will look to Simon Gerrans, Pieter Weening and Michael Albasini for stage wins.
Gerrans hopes to continue his successful season that began with the Australian National Road Championships win. The national title was followed by the overall victory at the Tour Down Under and a thrilling win at Milan-Sanremo. The Victorian is the first Australian to win a stage in all three Grand Tours.
"He has had a very successful year to date," said White. "An opportunist with a knack for winning from breaks, we'll look to Simon on a few key stages."
Pieter Weening has had a quiet build-up to his fifth Tour appearance. Absent from the Tour de France since 2008, Weening inspired selection after very strong performances at Tour of California and Critérium du Dauphiné. Weening shot to prominence after winning the eighth stage of the Tour de France in his Tour debut in 2005.
"Pieter's season started slowly due to injury," said White. "He spent the winter and early spring attending to his knee, and returned to racing with Circuit Sarthe in April. Pieter's slow but steady build-up clearly worked for him. At Tour of California and Critérium du Dauphiné we have seen that he's ready to take his chances and race with the best."
Michael Albasini will take to the start of his fourth Tour de France having already delivered three stage wins, an overall race victory and second-place at Flèche Wallone for ORICA-GreenEDGE this year. The solid all-rounder with a gritty style of racing proved capable of Grand Tour stage victory in 2011 with his win at the Vuelta a España.
"Michael is having the best season of his 11-year career," said White. "We've seen his aggressive style of racing net him stage wins in Spain and Switzerland and the overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya. Michael will contribute to the goals we've set for Matt Goss and take his own chances to win stages on various terrains."
Classics specialist Sebastian Langeveld broke his collarbone during the Tour of Flanders. The accident served as a catalyst for Langeveld to focus on his form for July.
"Sebastian will play a very big support role for Matt Goss and our other riders seeking stage wins," said White. "After an unfortunate crash at the Tour of Flanders dashed his personal ambitions, he switched gears and used his recovery and return to racing to be in shape for the Tour. I'm confident Sebastian will contribute to the team's objectives."
Stuart O'Grady, who has appeared in every Tour de France since he made his debut in 1997, will provide critical on road leadership. With 15 starts, 13 finishes, two stage wins and nine days in yellow to his name, O'Grady's experience will be invaluable to the team. While O'Grady's personal victories have become less common towards the end of his career, the South Australian, who will celebrate his 39th birthday during the Tour, can still be seen turning himself inside out on the front of the bunch.
"Stuart is our road captain," said White. "He is without any doubt the most experienced rider on our team. Not many riders have more Tour de France racing experience than Stuart. Along with acting as leader on the road, I wouldn't be surprised if Stuart looked at his own chances along the way."
"We're really proud to make our debut in the biggest race in the world with an Australian team," concluded General Manager Shayne Bannan. "It's has been an incredible journey for us so far thanks to the vision of the Ryan family, all of our dedicated sponsors, and the hard work shown by our staff and riders. We're obviously humble, as this is our first Tour de France, but we all have a good feeling of confidence about our chances to make our mark in the race."
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