Orica-GreenEdge aims for stages as Gerrans defends his title in Santos Tour Down Under
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Orica-GreenEdge aims for stages as Gerrans defends his title in Santos Tour Down Under

by Ben Atkins at 1:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Less pressure to win its home WorldTour race will mean a different strategy for Australian team

simon gerransOrica-GreenEdge will be fielding a strong team at the Santos Tour Down Under between January 22nd and 27th, which includes defending champion Simon Gerrans. The 2012 Australian champion, resplendent in the white, green and gold jersey that he had won less than two weeks before, finished the race on the same time as Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, but took the victory by virtue of his consistently better placings at stage finishes.

The 2012 edition was the then GreenEdge team’s debut in the WorldTour, and there was pressure to perform in the biggest race on Australian soil; having taken the victory last year - albeit without winning a stage - the pressure is lower this time.

“We’re bringing a strong team, and we’re hoping to pick up a stage win,” said directeur sportif Matt Wilson. “Gerrans has free reign to have a crack at the overall. Last year, winning the Tour Down Under felt essential. This year, we’re taking a different approach. Wins at the Tour Down Under are now one of many goals for our second season.”

Alongside Gerrans - last year’s Milano-Sanremo winner - will be the winner of the previous year’s Primavera, Matt Goss. The Tasmanian was brought down in the massive crash on the first day of last year’s race, but will be hunting stage victories again this time, where he will be led out by South African Daryl Impey and Dutchman Jens Mouris.

“On the days where it’s a sprinter’s race, Gossy will be there,” Wilson explained. “He’s a past stage winner at the Tour Down Under and has finished high up on the overall classification in previous years. He’s our man for the sprints.”

“Daryl was Gossy’s main lead out man at the Tour de France,” Wilson noted. “The pair worked well together. We’ve selected him for that role again. Jens is a strong workhorse. He’s useful on both the sprint stages and the terrain where Gerrans will need some support.”

Also there to help will be recently crowned Australian road and time trial champion Luke Durbridge who will carry the green and gold in the race as Gerrans did last year.

“He’s clearly on super form at the moment,” said Wilson. “Like Jens, Durbridge can help both in the sprints and over hillier terrain.”

Vuelta a España mountains jersey winner Simon Clarke will be one of Gerrans’ key supporters if he is to retain his title, while the experience of 39-year-old Stuart O’Grady will be invaluable to the team on all terrains.

“Simon also has really good form right now and will be a very important rider for Gerrans for the hillier stages,” explained Wilson. “We know he can climb with the best and if those stages become crucial for the overall, we want to have someone next to Gerrans in the final.

“Stuart’s experience is unparalleled – in general and at the Tour Down Under,” Wilson added. “He will be an important road captain, helping us execute our tactics as best as possible during the race.”

For Wilson himself, the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be a first. Having ridden almost every edition of the race, the 35-year-old Victorian retired at the end of the 2012 season, and will be directing the WorldTour team for the first time.

“This is really exciting for me,” he said. “I’ve done this race 12 times as a rider. I know the stages inside out. To come here as a director will be a completely different experience, and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.

“There’s obviously a lot of attention around the team at the Tour Down Under,” he continued. “It’s to be expected. There aren’t that many chances during the year for the Australian fans to see us, talk to riders and cheer for us roadside. Everyone likes a hometown win. It’s up to us to do what we will with that pressure.”

“We’ve already proven a lot during our first season,” Wilson added. “While we’re eager to net that first big win, we’re more patient this year. The season is long and our objectives numerous. We’ll attack the obvious sprint stages for Goss and support Simon in Stirling and Willunga. We’re all looking forward to a great race.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Tour Down Under

Daryl Impey, Jens Mouris, Luke Durbridge, Matt Goss, Simon Clarke, Simon Gerrans and Stuart O’Grady

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