Orica-GreenEDGE has named a strong team for the Santos Tour Down Under, which includes newly crowned double national champion Luke Durbridge and defending Tour Down Under champion Simon Gerrans.
There aren’t that many chances during the year for the Australian fans to see us, talk to riders and cheer for us roadside. Everyone likes a hometown win. It’s up to us to do what we will with that pressure.
Gerrans will lead the team in Australia's only UCI WorldTour event which begins in Adelaide on Tuesday 22 January.
Matt Goss will represent the team’s interests in the sprints, while Durbridge, Daryl Impey, Jens Mouris, Simon Clarke and Stuart O’Grady will support Goss and Gerrans while actively seeking out any personal opportunities that might materialise.
“We’re bringing a strong team, and we’re hoping to pick up a stage win,” said the team's sport director Matt Wilson.
“Gerrans has free rein to have a crack at the overall. Last year, winning the Tour Down Under felt essential. This year, we’re taking a different approach. Wins at the Tour Down Under are now one of many goals for our second season.”
In a race that caters to the fast finishers, Goss provides Orica-GreenEDGE with the most obvious option to open the season with a WorldTour win Down Under.
“On the days where it’s a sprinter’s race, Gossy will be there,” said Wilson.
“He’s a past stage winner at the Tour Down Under and has finished high up on the overall classification in previous years. He’s our man for the sprints.”
Impey and Mouris will act as key figures in Goss’s sprint train.
Durbridge has demonstrated incredible form with three early season wins. His aggressive, repeated attacks on the second day of racing at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic netted him a win in Portarlington. The next week he successfully defending his national time trial title in Ballarat before claiming the national road title in Buninyong on Sunday.
“He’s clearly on super form at the moment,” Wilson said. “Like Jens, Durbridge can help both in the sprints and over hillier terrain.”
Simon Clarke has shown that he has maintained the form that earned him the king of the mountain’s jersey at the Vuelta a España last year.
“Simon also has really good form right now and will be a very important rider for Gerrans for the hillier stages,” explained Wilson.
“We know he can climb with the best and if those stages become crucial for the overall, we want to have someone next to Gerrans in the final.”
Stuart O’Grady rounds out the line-up. The South Australian is a two-time Tour Down Under overall winner.
“Stuart’s experience is unparalleled, in general and at the Tour Down Under,” said Wilson. “He will be an important road captain, helping us execute our tactics as best as possible during the race.”
Last year Wilson was on the bike in Adelaide. This year, he’s behind the wheel.
“This is really exciting for me,” he said. “I’ve done this race 12 times as a rider. I know the stages inside out. To come here as a director will be a completely different experience, and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”
In his first WorldTour directing role, Wilson is eager to set realistic expectations.
“There’s obviously a lot of attention around the team at the Tour Down Under,” said Wilson.
“It’s to be expected. There aren’t that many chances during the year for the Australian fans to see us, talk to riders and cheer for us roadside. Everyone likes a hometown win. It’s up to us to do what we will with that pressure.”
“We’ve already proven a lot during our first season,” he continued.
“While we’re eager to net that first big win, we’re more patient this year. The season is long and our objectives numerous. We’ll attack the obvious sprint stages for Goss and support Simon in Stirling and Willunga. We’re all looking forward to a great race.”
Orica-GreenEDGE for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under: