With seventeen riders out of contract this season, change is afoot at Orica-GreenEDGE...

Australia's first and only WorldTour team has signed Spanish climber Amets Txurruka to boost their power and experience in the mountains, in support of the team's young and developing GC talent.

32-year-old Txurruka, who will join from pro-continental team Caja Rural–Seguros RGA, previously rode four years in the UCI WorldTour with Euskaltel–Euskadi and has a palmarès that includes a stage win at this year's Tour of Norway and 14 Grand Tour appearances.

"It's a real dream come through for me to start this next chapter of my career," Txurruka said. "I've had a great time at Caja-Rural-RGA and I have a lot to thank them for, but joining Orica-GreenEDGE is a once in a lifetime chance that couldn't be missed."

"He will be the final rider to support our young climbers in the hillier races." - Orica-GreenEDGE sport director Neil Stephens

"It's easy to see that it's a team with incredible unity and a great atmosphere, where goals are defined and met together as a team. I would like to be able to help achieve those goals wherever the team can use me and see my work contribute to the team's results."

The 32-year-old will support the likes of British twins Adam and Simon Yates and Colombian Esteban Chaves as the team looks forward to increasing its competitiveness in general classification rankings.

"At Euskaltel, Amets was a right hand man to Samuel Sanchez," sport director Neil Stephens said. "He has a heap of experience, he can climb well and he is a guy that is very realistic about his ability and he just wants to ride at the top level."

"He will be the final rider to support our young climbers in the hillier races. As well as the physical support, doing a turn or moving them up into position, he will also be there to pass on experience and tactics as well.

"During this process, when I asked Amets about his favourite victory he actually told me about a race that he didn't even win himself. His favourite victory was riding for a teammate to help him claim the win. That's a pretty strong sign of the type of characters we want around this team."


Monday 10 Aug 2015

As riders like Txurruka and Christopher Juul-Jensen join the Australian set-up, others depart. After four years, Simon Clarke will leaving Orica-GreenEDGE, destination as yet unknown.

In an interview with Cyclingnews, the 29-year-old Victorian said he is "looking for a fresh environment and a fresh start".

"There's no agreement at all with BMC." - Simon Clarke

"I think it's important in cycling to keep challenging yourself and as soon as you feel a little bit too comfortable in a particular situation, maybe its time to make a change, keep that hunger and keep pushing yourself. I'm at the stage in my career now when I really need to do that and I feel that can be best done in a new team environment."

With 17 riders out of contract by year's end, the departure of Clarke coincides with the team's ambition to more seriously pursue general classification, while at the same time, build a sprint team around Caleb Ewan.

Clarke has been linked to BMC Racing, where it's no secret he's friends with Richie Porte, who will be joining from Team Sky. However the winner of the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour said as of last Friday, "There's no agreement at all with BMC. That was an untrue rumour that was going around so it was good to clarify that. We're in negotiations with various teams and hopefully I can find an appropriate solution sooner rather than later."

While Clarke said "I'm not leaving because I don't like it here", Ivan Santaromita, OGE's Italian climber, leaves under less than happy circumstances.

"Here, I lost my way and I lost my motivation." - Ivan Santaromita

The 31-year-old told Cyclingnews that "I'm a Grand Tour rider"; his obvious problem being he wasn't selected to ride the any three-week races this year, and will not be riding the upcoming Vuelta a España.

"My contract is finished and I don't want to stay with the team. Both parties are happy to close the contract. I want to change – I'm looking for a good team where I can find new motivation because here I lost my way and I lost my motivation," he said.

"I think we have two mentalities that are opposite with Italian and Australian – that's just how it is."

Santaromita, part of Cadel Evans' Tour de France-winning coterie at BMC Racing in 2011, says he's in negotiations with two other teams, with a clear preference to ride for a Grand Tour contender.

OGE's co-title sponsor Orica, after hitting a 12-month high of $22.56 only two months ago on the Australian Stock Exchange, took out the ignominous award for the greatest fall in share value the previous week by an ASX200 listed company, its stock price plunging 17 per cent on Friday alone.

Australian shares in general saw their worst day in three years Friday, losing $37 billion, triggered by continued weakness in commodity prices and nervousness around reporting of the previous financial year's results. Orica, which supplies chemicals and explosives to mining and other industries, found itself the greatest casualty in percentage terms on the ASX200, its shares falling 18.58 per cent last week and closing at $15.64.

"Analysts predict Orica's 2014-15 profit forecasts of $490 million would fall short by 10-15 per cent."

CEO Alberto Calderon, who took over after the departure of his controversy-laden predecessor Ian Smith in March, attributed the $1.65 billion write-down to depressed conditions in the mining sector and an oversupply of ammonium nitrate, the principal compound in ANFO (ammonium nitrate/fuel oil), a widely used bulk industrial explosive mixture.

"With margin pressures across the board, we should develop more enduring, sustainable relationships throughout the production chain that embed greater value for everyone over the longer term," Calderon said Friday, speaking at the Melbourne Mining Club, adding that India's industrialisation "is never going to be as high as China's and it is also moving towards the consumption-based phase."

A former senior executive with mining giant BHP Billiton, Colombian-born Calderon, who was made permanent CEO on May 19 this year - three years after the company announced a three-year co-title sponsorship arrangement with the Australian WorldTour team, renewed in November last year till 2016 - said there was a need for further cost-cutting and efficiency improvements. "It's a consequence really, (of) a new operating model," he said of the write-down.

Analysts predict Orica's 2014-15 profit forecasts of $490 million would fall short by 10-15 per cent, and profit for 2015-16 to be flat on the previous year.

In one of his last races with Tinkoff-Saxo before joining Orica-GreenEDGE in 2016, Christopher Juul-Jensen took out overall honours Saturday at the Tour of Denmark, a convincing winner over Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Marco Mercato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

In Friday's 13.6 kilometre individual time trial in Helsingør, Juul-Jensen finished second to compatriot Mads Würtz Schmidt (Team Coloquick), and in so doing, took the race lead from Bak. Tinkoff-Saxo then finished off the six-day race in style, as Michael Morkov and double-stage winner Matti Breschel went 1-2 on the final stage to Frederiksberg.

"It's difficult to describe this. On top of the overall win, we finish off with a very well deserved stage win for Michael Mørkøv. It was something special to enter the laps and streets here in Copenhagen that I know so well with this huge turnout," Juul-Jensen said, who retained his overnight 45-second advantage over Bak.

"Before the season, I had two main goals: to win the national TT championship and to win the Tour of Denmark." - Chris Juul-Jensen

"It was a mixture of being focused on making it to the finish line to secure the lead and enjoying it, but I must admit that I was confident because of this group of riders that I have around me. We've targeted multiple goals during Tour of Denmark and this time everything played out just right.

"I'm overwhelmed by this experience and the support I have received from my teammates and people at the side of the road. Before the season, I had two main goals: to win the national TT championship and to win the Tour of Denmark. In the time trial, I was able to establish my overall win in this race wearing the red and white national TT jersey.

"I have a new team next year but it's very special to conclude four amazing years like this. I turned pro here on Tinkoff-Saxo and I'm glad that I can pay back my team-mates and everybody with this win," said the 26-year-old.

Just in case you don't care much for all things OGE, following a nail-biting final time trial in Kraków, Basque rider Jon Izagirre (Movistar) came up as the surprise winner of the 72nd edition of the Tour de Pologne.

Before Saturday's finale, with less than half a minute separating the top 10 on GC, the fate of overnight leader Sergio Henao (Team Sky), who moved into yellow after victory on the penultimate stage, was far from assured.

Fourteen seconds adrift of Henao at the start of the day, Izagirre, who set off sixth from last, set the best time by half a second on the mostly flat 25 kilometre course, besting Katusha's Ilnur Zakarin. Yet it was those ahead of him on GC that concerned the 26-year-old... In the end, his time of 30 minutes and 9 seconds was good enough to seal the deal by two and three seconds over Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal) and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing), respectively, as Henao faded to finish eighth overall.

"The first days were hard for me: always on flat roads, under stifling heat, always having to keep attentive. It was a matter of suffering." - Jon Izagirre

"I knew that I would be able to do a good TT here, since I knew the parcours - I was really determined and willing to win this race," Izagirre said, who finished runner-up the previous two editions.

"I didn't feel as good as as I did during last year's time trial, but this result changes everything. With all the energy we spent and the support by my team... It's incredible to win the Tour de Pologne!

"The first days were hard for me: always on flat roads, under stifling heat, always having to keep attentive. It was a matter of suffering, and suffering a lot in the mountains, too, with long stages like (Stage 5 to) Zakopane. I really feel for De Clercq and that two-second margin; I know how harsh it feels to lose a race by such a short gap, as it happened to me with (Rafal) Majka last year, and the happy side of it came to me this time.

"I really like one-week stage races and this year, with my podium in Pais Vasco and this victory, I've shown I'm getting stronger in those and doing well in those with a TT, where I can improve my result. Next up? I don't know... For the time being, my schedule is mainly Tour de Limousin, then Hamburg and Plouay - but we still have to talk to (team manager) Eusebio (Unzué) and see how we tackle the end of the season."