19 June 2013

Tour de France 2013: The Teams 4 - Orica GreenEdge

The Australian outfit are bringing six of the team that made Oricas debut on the Tour last year and three newcomers. There will be a specialised sprint team to help their team leader but this year they have added options for the intermediate stages that aren't flat to give them other options.

Matt Goss the Australian sprinter will once again be trying to out sprint his former team mate and the man he used to help lead out Mark Cavendish. However, despite two stage wins in the Giro he has yet to win one in the Tour. Last year 2 second places, 3 thirds and one fourth in the bunch sprint helped him to edge ahead of Cav to take 3rd in the Green Jersey competition, but last year the Manxman was having to make his own way in the sprints and this year he has full support. The Orica leadout train along with that of Argos Shimano and OPQS will all be evident no doubt in all of the big bunch finishes.

Veteren Australian Stuart O'Grady will be equalling a record when he takes the start line. This will be his 17th start in the Tour an unbroken record going back to his 1997 debut. He is tying with George Hincapie who had three of his results retrospectively wiped after he admitted doping. O'Grady though is a former top sprinter, coming second in the Green Jersey on three occasions but only picking up 2 stage wins in his career. In 2007 he showed that he has evolved as a rider when he won Paris-Roubaix. He does not have the full out speed that he once had, but he will play an important part in the lead out as well as being the experienced head that is the road captain for this team.

Aussie Cameron Meyer is coming to the Tour off some good recent form, he was 5th in the Amgen Tour of California and 10th in the Tour du Suisse. In 2011 he was the winner of the Tour Down Under. He is a outside potential for a top ten in the GC, especially now that he is focussing on the road and not mixing it with the track. This will be his Tour debut though he has appeared in 3 Giros and one Vuelta in the last few years.

South African Daryl Impey was the winner of the 2009 Tour of Turkey. He had been signed in 2011 for the Australian team Pegasus but when they failed to secure a UCI licence he eventually found his way to Orica-GreenEdge. He made his Grand Tour debut in last year's Giro d'Italia before going on to complete the Tour. He will be wearing the South African national jersey during the time trials having secured that title earlier this year.

Like most Australians Brett Lancaster had a successful track career before converting to the road. He made his Grand Tour debut back in 2003 in the Giro and competed there four times before getting the call up for the Tour in 2007. This will be his sixth Tour. In 2005 he won the shortest ever prologue of the Giro taking just 1'20" to cover the 1150m thus pulling on the Maglia Rosa. He'll be looking to make an impression in the time trails when his engine is not being used to deliver Goss to the line.

Svein Tuft from Canada is another time-trialist on this team. He is lining up for his second Grand Tour of the season and his first Tour de France. Apart from 2007 he has been the National Time Trial champion of Canada since 2004. In the Tour de San Luis back in January he secured the first stage win of the season for Orica-GreenEdge in the stage 4 time trial. In 2008 he was second in the World Time Trial event.

Simon Gerrans is a puncheur so some of the many medium mountain stages may well suit his style in this year's Tour. He has won stages in all three Grand Tours which is something that a non-Sprinter who isn't really a time trialist nor big climber should be immensely proud of, so he can often pick the right days to get into the breaks. He won Milan-San Remo last year and this year finished 3rd in the Amstel Gold Race and 10th in Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Last year he sported the national colours all the way around France as Orica-GreenEdge made their debut on this stage. But he'll be looking to get up the road when he has that freedom.

Swiss rider Michael Albasini last year won the Volta a Catalunya which was a cold and wet race which saw 33 abandonments on stage three including Andy Schleck (RLT), Bradley Wiggins (SKY) and Teejay van Garderen (BMC). He has taken the first two stages and held unto his lead all the way to the line.

Simon Clarke won the mountains classification in last year's Vuelta (see picture) in what was his first Grand Tour. He will follow that up with an appearance in this years Tour. The 26 year old is likely to be one of the riders that Orica-GreenEdge are prepared to let go hunting up the road for mountain points along the route and see if he can repeat his performance from that Vuelta.

Orica-Greenedge are coming to this Tour not only trying to support Goss for his attempt on the Green Jersey but also with options on other stages most likely through Clarke. It could be an interesting Tour for them. Yet no place for Austrialian double national champion Luke Dudridge.

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