• Matt White (L) and Esteban Chaves at the Santos Tour Down Under. (Getty)Source: Getty
As Orica-Scott play coy about who will ride what Grand Tour, Roman Kreuziger is definitely set to play an essential role in its overall bid at the Tour de France this year.
Cycling Central
24 Jan 2017 - 9:23 AM  UPDATED 25 Jan 2017 - 11:05 AM

The team that is now orienting around general classification success won’t disclose its leader for the Tour until next month when a series of ‘home’ races for the Australian-registered outfit has finished. 

But sports director Matt White maintains the Czech will be a “game changer” as a super domestique, who has been employed on a two-year deal chiefly to aid the outfit in its burgeoning bid for yellow.

“He knows he’s coming here specifically to ride for our designated leader at the Tour de France,” White said. 

“He’s got experience riding with Alberto [Contador] for the last few years so he knows what it takes to get a high result. He’s three times top 10 in the Tour de France himself, and 10th last year.

"When you’ve got a guy who you can rely on to finish at that level I think that’s going to be the game changer for us in support of whoever rides the Tour.”

Giro d’Italia runner-up Esteban Chaves, as well as Adam and Simon Yates, are at the centre of the team’s revised focus. Chaves finished second overall at the Tour Down Under after starting his season earlier than previous years. Meanwhile, the Yates brothers are due to open their respective campaigns at the Tour of Valencia next month.

Orica-Scott 'experiment' nets Chaves a TDU podium place
Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) held onto his second position overall despite a spirited attempt from Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) to dislodge the pint-sized climber with time bonuses in the intermediate sprints.

“The true part is [Chaves] has never raced in January before,” White said of the Colombian’s debut down under. “But we were talking about it 12 months ago, and when we heard that there was going to be two hilltop finishes we thought why not.

“Adam and Simon, they know their programme,” he continued. “We’ll talk about who is going where as soon as the Aussie summer racing is finished but they know what they are getting ready for and that starts in February.

“We want to talk about what we are doing here in Australia, winning here, not about what we are planning. The guys have known since October/November.”

Workhorse Damien Howson, 24, is racing alongside Chaves, 27, at the Tour Down Under this week and is set follow the burgeoning Grand Tour contender again this season, after successfully supporting him at the Giro and Vuelta a Espana last year.

A portion of the team’s proposed Tour squad is currently competing in Australia.

“There’s a lot of guys who will be down for the Tour in the group for sure,” White said.

Orica-BikeExchange signs Roman Kreuziger
Australia's WorldTour cycling team Orica-BikeExchange have further strengthened their general classification arsenal, signing Czech rider Roman Kreuziger.

Kreuziger isn’t racing in Adelaide but stands as a certainty for the team that despite being younger and less experienced than some rival Grand Tour squads is appearing just as feisty.

“He is 30 but he’s been around a long time. I think he’s 10 years pro already [12 – ed.]. He was looking to work with young riders,” White said.

“He still wants to go well in the Ardennes and some other races, but for the Tour he’s more than happy to support our young stars.

“We had to wait until the courses were announced with the Giro and the Tour but we’ve got an idea of what we want to do with those young guys. That will become clearer when we announce who is going where.”