• Orica-BikeExchange is set for 2017. (Getty)Source: Getty
Australian cycling team Orica-BikeExchange will target general classification results at all three Grand Tours for the first time in 2017.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
16 Nov 2016 - 6:33 PM 

A breakout season from Orica-BikeExchange's young stars has left the top Australian cycling team bullish about their Grand Tour prospects.

Next year will be the first time that Orica-BikeExchange aim for high general classification results in all three Grand Tours - the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España

It follows a season where Colombian Estaben Chavez was runner-up in the Giro and third in the Vuelta, along with his win in the Giro di Lombardia.

British teammate Adam Yates was fourth overall in the Tour and also won the young rider category, while his twin brother Simon took sixth at the Vuelta.

It was an unprecedented success for Orica-BikeExchange in the Grand Tour overall results.

They started out in 2012 as a team focussed on one-day races and Grand Tour stage wins, building steadily from there.

"We want consistency and that is needed from everyone," said team director Matt White.

"The idea may sound simple, but in such a dynamic world which makes up our sport it's a challenge to achieve.

"We will approach all three Grand Tours with general classification ambitions, which is a first for the organisation."

Rather than recruit big-name Grand Tour riders, Orica-BikeExchange had great success in identifying young talent and developing from within.

Chavez is only 26, while the Yates brothers are 24 so it will be a few years before they reach their peak as Grand Tour contenders.

As usual, the team will start the season by targeting the major January domestic events, especially the national road titles in Ballarat and Adelaide's Tour Down Under.

Significantly, it will be much the same roster as this season, with Australian sprinter Michael Matthews the only big-name departure.

That is in stark contrast to a year ago when a major contract negotiation phase meant they had eight riders leave - including several from their foundation squad.

"The 'DNA' and group is very similar to the roster that achieved so much in 2016," White said.

"This is an exciting prospect but something we need to approach with caution, to ensure that we don't let any complacency slip into our processes."

Czech climber Roman Kreuziger has joined to bolster their climbing stocks, while German Roger Kluge will beef up the leadout train for young Australian sprint ace Caleb Ewan.

Other big Australian names in the lineup include Mat Hayman, who gave the team another massive win in April when he took out the Paris-Roubaix classic.

Compatriot Simon Gerrans, one of their most successful riders, will also return for his sixth season with the team.