• He knows where he's going this season... Do you? (Getty)Source: Getty
In what will indisputably be the most anticipated year for Orica-Scott to date, much talk is revolving around their three GC leaders and which Grand Tour they'll ride. They know where they're going - but for the time being, we'll need to keep guessing, writes Anthony Tan.
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Cycling Central
15 Jan 2017 - 2:59 PM 

One month after this year's Giro route was unveiled and almost two months after the Tour parcours was known, after expressly saying he would line up for the 100th edition of the former, it seems Esteban Chaves, or at least Orica-Scott, may have had a change of mind.

"I still have many years to do the Tour de France," the 26-year-old Colombian said in November last year, who turns 27 on Tuesday. "One day, I will find that the (Tour) course suits my qualities and I will try my luck.

"I have a very special relationship with Italy. I really like Italian cycling and I have many friends in this country."

"While the Grand Tour Plan may not be known to us, it is known to those within OGE, or at the very least, Chaves and Adam and Simon Yates."

Though just days later, Orica-Scott general manager Shayne Bannan said they were yet to decide on Chaves' plans for Season 2017. "In reality, we haven't decided our plans in detail. We'll do that at the end of the month," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Let's not forget that we have two other important riders for the Grand Tours in the Yates twins. Adam was fourth at the Tour and Simon was sixth at the Vuelta. I can certainly say that we'll have at least one of those three at the start of the Giro. The probability that Chaves will be there is currently 50 per cent."

Having almost won the race in 2016, only ceding the maglia rosa to eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali on the final mountain stage, it makes sense for Chaves to Fight for Pink once more, and possibly the Vuelta again, too, where last year he finished third to Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome. This would also allow the Yates twins, who don't appear to share the same affinity with Italy or its national tour, a chance to ride the Tour together and, importantly, unencumbered, as Adam so successfully did last July.

This week, however, while Orica-Scott head sports director Matt White didn't rule out such a plan, he also did not confirm it to be the plan. "Because of the Australian summer races, we're not going to talk about it," he said.

"We owe it to these races, to be talking about these races."

At this stage, all we know is what the sporting mastermind behind much of the team's success since 2012 told us last in November last year: "We will approach all three Grand Tours with general classification ambitions, which is a first for the organisation."

Still, while the Grand Tour Plan may not be known to us, it is known to those within OGE, or at the very least, Chaves and Adam and Simon Yates, as well as team management. "They know where they're going... those guys have known for a while," White told AAP on Friday.

Another possibility is that one - or both - of the Yates twins rides in support of Chaves at, say, the Tour de France, but receive carte blanche to ride GC at the Giro and/or Vuelta. Given the speed at which the Yateses have adapted to - and positively thrived in - Grand Tour-level racing, as well as their contract extensions till the end of 2018 coupled with the promises that go with that, announced last August, it would seem an odd choice for either of the British twins, particularly Adam, to accept a role other than that of a leader, or co-leader.

The recent bolstering of climbing domestiques - when the road veers skywards, the team now boasts the likes of Michael Albasini, Jack Haig, Damian Howson, Roman Kreuziger, Rubén Plaza, Robert Power and Carlos Verona - suggest there isn't the need for Chaves or the Yates brothers to take on anything other than a leadership position with Orica-Scott, anyway.

My money's on Chaves following an almost identical program to last year, empowered by the 'one year longer, one year stronger' mentality. When he goes to the Tour, he'll be going to win.