• Esteban Chaves (C) will have the support of riders like Damian Howson and Roman Kreuziger. (Getty)Source: Getty
As Orica-Scott focuses on general classification at the Tour de France, Simon Gerrans will miss the race for the first time since 2009.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
23 Jun 2017 - 9:09 PM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2017 - 9:10 PM

Orica-Scott dropped a Tour de France selection bombshell in announcing a team roster without Simon Gerrans.

The Australian team also decided to stick with their long-term plans for young sprint ace Caleb Ewan and not give him his Tour debut this year.

It will be the first time since 2009 that 37-year-old Gerrans, one of Australia's greatest cyclists, has not ridden at the Tour.

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Gerrans has given Orica-Scott some of their greatest Tour highlights since the team debuted in 2012 at the race.

In 2013, he was the first Orica-Scott rider to win a Tour de France stage and, the following day, Gerrans also gave the team their first yellow jersey in the race as the overall leader.

But Orica-Scott now has different goals, with the focus this year on young general classification hopes Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates.

Team director Matt White said the team's growing depth meant tough selection calls had to be made.

"He's very realistic, he knows what we're trying to achieve and there are not too many stages for a rider of his qualities," White said of Gerrans.

White also admitted he was tempted to pick Ewan, given there were nine or 10 sprint stages in the three-week Tour.

Ewan, one of pro cycling's hottest young talents, last month had his first win at the Giro d'Italia, another three-week Grand Tour.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted," White told AAP. "I wouldn't want to throw him in there to the lions, even if, in certain respects, he's certainly ready to go."

White remains upbeat about Orica-Scott's Tour prospects, despite a rocky year so far.

They had to overhaul their plans for this year's three Grand Tours when Chaves was sidelined from February to early June with a knee injury.

"I'm confident we'll deliver, whether it's the white jersey (best young rider) with Simon or a stage (win) in the mountains or someone in the top 10. I'm confident we can get the job done," White said.

While Orica-Scott will not have Gerrans' vast experience, fellow veteran Mat Hayman and star recruit Roman Kreuziger will lead the team on the road.

Kreuziger has finished in the top 10 at the Tour four times and he will support Chaves and Yates in the mountains.

"He gives a big, big advantage for our young climbers," White said.

Chaves and Australian climber Damien Howson will make their Tour debuts.

Orica-Scott for the Tour de France
Michael Albasini (SUI), Esteban Chaves (COL), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Mat Hayman (AUS), Damien Howson (AUS), Daryl Impey (RSA), Roman Kreuziger (CZE), Jens Keukeleire (BEL), Simon Yates (GBR).