Orica-GreenEdge go into this week's Giro d’Italia with a well-balanced team to support Colombian Esteban Chaves and the objective of seriously challenging for a result in the overall general classification.
2015 Tour of Abu Dhabi winner Chaves produced a stellar performance in last year’s Vuelta a Espana with two stage wins and an impressive fifth place in the overall classification.
This year marks the 99th edition of the prestigious Giro d'Italia. As one of cycling’s three Grand Tours, the Giro is widely regarded as the most difficult due to the high mountains and unpredictable weather.
Taking place between the 6th and 29th of May covering 21 stages, this year’s race begins in Apeldoorn, Holland continuing the recent tradition of ‘international departs’ in various European countries.
The race begins with a 9.8km individual time trial followed by two other road stages in Holland before heading to Italy for 18 stages that will cover the length and breadth of the country.
Sport director Matt White is looking forward to the three-week race and the opportunity to field a team capable of challenging for the overall general classification.
“This is the first time in the team’s history that we have a team assembled around a rider who has the genuine credentials to compete for the general classification,” White said. “Esteban’s performance in last year’s Vuelta a Espana has given the team another string to its bow and supporting him will be our big focus for the race.”
“This is new territory for us. We have enjoyed success at the Giro d’Italia in recent years with stage results and consecutive days in the leader’s jersey in 2014 and 2015 but we have never realistically gone into the race looking to challenge for the overall.”
“Esteban is super motivated and he has prepared very well for the race. We are confident that we can provide real support for Esteban. We have a well balanced team around him and the experience of our Spanish riders Ruben (Plaza) and Amets (Txurruka) will be important on the mountain stages.”
21-year-old Australian sprinting sensation Caleb Ewan will be starting only his second Grand Tour and White is excited at the prospect of seeing how the youngster will perform on the big stage against the best sprinters in the world.
“Caleb is really fast,” White said. “We are well aware of that and it’s going to be an exciting prospect for the team to see him make the step up in this kind of race.”
“He has made a great improvement over the last twelve months, I’m looking forward to seeing how he will perform against the big guns of the sprinting world.
“There is going to be some strong competition there but we will be aiming to support Caleb on the stages that have the possibility of ending in a sprint finish.”
2014 Giro d’Italia stage winner Luka Mezgec and multiple world track champion Michael Hepburn will provide the vital speed required to support Ewan whilst New Zealander Sam Bewley and former Canadian road race champion Svein Tuft are the strong diesel engines of the team.
2013 under 23 world time trial champion Damien Howson completes the Giro d’Italia line up. The young Australian comes into the team directly off the back of an impressive performance in the Tour de Romandie, wearing the best young rider’s jersey on stage four and finishing in 16th position overall.