Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE has announced its nine-man team for this year's Tour de France, with Matt Goss named as the designated leader for the sprint stages.
We're really proud to make our debut in the biggest race in the world with an Australian team.
A stage winner during May's Giro d'Italia, Goss made his Tour de France debut last year as part of the now defunct HTC-Highroad team that helped Mark Cavendish win the green points jersey.
Now he will be supported by fellow Australians Baden Cooke and Brett Lancaster and South Africa's Daryl Impey.
Orica-GreenEDGE, the first Australian team to race the Tour, has built its team with a focus on stage wins in both the sprints and the hillier stages.
Much will also be expected of Simon Gerrans, winner of the Milan-San Remo in March, Switzerland's Michael Albasini and Dutchman Pieter Weening.
Veteran Australian Stuart O'Grady, who took part in his first Tour de France in 1997 and is now 38, has also been called up.
The experienced O'Grady has spent nine days in the yellow jersey in the past, and has been named the team's "road captain" by sporting director Matt White."It was difficult to select the final nine," said 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."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," he added."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."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."
Michael Albasini (SUI), Baden Cooke (AUS), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Matt Goss (AUS), Daryl Impey (RSA), Brett Lancaster (AUS), Sebastian Langeveld (NED), Stuart O'Grady (AUS), Pieter Weening (NED)