Orica-GreenEDGE's final Tour selection says a lot. Yet it says as much, if not more, about those not selected than those who were, writes Anthony Tan.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

First, with 26 riders on the roster (27 from October 1, when Caleb Ewan officially joins), Orica-GreenEDGE riders had roughly a one-in-three chance of going to Tour #101.

No different to any of the other 18 WorldTour teams, then, but it highlights that for every man selected, two miss out. It's a brutal milieu, the professional cycling world - even at the highest level.

Next, let's compare this year's OGE line-up with the one from 2013:

Orica-GreenEDGE, 2014 Tour de France
181 GERRANS Simon
182 ALBASINI Michael
183 CLARKE Simon
184 DURBRIDGE Luke
185 HAYMAN Mathew
186 KEUKELEIRE Jens
187 MEIER Christian
188 TUFT Svein
189 YATES Simon

Orica-GreenEDGE, 2013 Tour de France
181 GERRANS Simon
182 ALBASINI Michael
183 CLARKE Simon
184 GOSS Matthew
185 IMPEY Daryl
186 LANCASTER Brett
187 MEYER Cameron
188 O'GRADY Stuart
189 TUFT Svein

Only four riders from last year's selection made it in this year's cut. What does that say?

Well, despite the success of yesteryear, head sports director Matt White and general manager Shayne Bannan don't mind a bit of Red Foo shufflin'. Last year's mix was very good, no doubt about it - they won a stage and the team time trial, don't forget! - but after a spectacular first week, they were largely absent over the next fortnight. It was the same case in 2012, when the team was centred around Matthew Goss, and as he fell out of contention for green and wasn't fast enough to take a stage, they became a chook without a head.

Speaking of Goss, not being included, then not even considered first reserve when 'Bling' Matthews crashed heavily out training, speaks volumes. For the Tasmanian who reached such lofty heights in 2010 and 2011, winning races like the GP Plouay and Milano-Sanremo, also finishing second to Mark Cavendish in the 2011 road world championship, his time at OGE is effectively up.

He needed a stage win at Paris-Nice but didn't quite make it - John Degenkolb beat him on Stage 2. He needed a win at the Tour of California but no such luck - the closest he came was third on Stage 5, behind breakaway winner Taylor Phinney and Peter Sagan. By then his chances of making the Tour team were virtually zero; if he was to stand any hope he needed to perform at the Tour of Switzerland... but after going nowhere fast, he pulled the pin on Stage 6.

Still, at 27, it'd be a little too cruel to say his career is over. Almost certainly, though, he'll need to find a new team and new motivations in 2015, because he's exhausted all opportunities where he is now.

Conversely, someone who can do no wrong is Simon Gerrans.

'Gerro', quite evidently, not just thrives, but performs under pressure; in almost every instance where he has been asked to deliver, just like your trusty Australia Post man, he's delivered. And, in doing so, it's taken enormous pressure off everyone in the team, who often use his success as a filip for their own, or someone else at OGE. Look at the success the team enjoyed after Gerrans won this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège as a case in point.

With Matthews gone and replaced by Canadian Christian Meier - hardly a like-for-like substitute - the onus of responsibility has tipped even further in his favour. But something tells me that's just the way Gerrans likes it. Stage 2, Yorkshire's own L-B-L, has his name all over it. Still, Michael Albasini, Simon Clarke and Jens Keukeleire, proven winners in their own right, will now be asked to step up. Each has been knocking on the door of something big for a while now, and the absence of Matthews creates an ideal opening to showcase their Tour stage-winning mettle.

The selection of one Yates brother without the other is a prudent move.

Unlike the goofy, lackadaisical brothers Schleck, and despite being twin bro's, they can race well on their own or in tandem. Also, Adam has already done almost 8,000 kilometres in 53 race days and needs a mid-season break to recharge, whereas Simon has raced just 5,000km in 33 days. If it was Trek Factory Racing they would both have been selected, regardless of form, race days, or any other pertinent measure; it's good to see OGE's selection is based on meritocracy, rather than favouritism.

Finally, give Svein Tuft a big - no, make that a massive - chapeau. He's one of only two OGE riders who rode this year's Giro d'Italia (along with Luke Durbridge) who's also set to do Le Tour, and the only TdF representative that finished the Giro. Oh, and yes, I almost forgot - he's 37 years old!

Unless a brick wall gets in the way (and maybe even if it does), come July 27, odds on, Tuft will have done his usual sterling yet selfless job, and made it to Paris.

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