Two-time overall winner Simon Gerrans will headline a seven-strong squad for Orica-GreenEdge at the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide. Gerrans will have a dynamic team and enjoy strong support from compatriots Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Matt Goss, Mathew Hayman, Michael Matthews and South African Daryl Impey.
“As an Australian team, this is a very important race for us,” said Sport Director Matt White. “We always want to do well at the Tour Down Under. We have a strong team, and everyone is really motivated to bring home some good results in front of our Australian fans. We’re targeting stage wins and focused on the overall. We have a number of options to achieve these goals.”
With both Goss and Matthews amongst its starters, the Australian outfit has multiple options for the sprint stages The duo has an experienced and versatile train at their disposal should the fast finishes become a priority.
“It’s natural that people will want to know who we’re working for in the sprints,” said White “The honest answer is that we don’t know yet. We’re going to have to wait to get closer to the day to make that decision. The races in the first half of January will give us some indication, but we may not know until we see what happens out on the road during the Tour Down Under.”
Given his past success at the Santos Tour Down Under, it’s natural eyes will be on Gerrans in Adelaide. The Victorian secured the ochre leader’s jersey on count-back at the start of the team’s maiden season. When an asthma attack removed Gerrans from general classification contention in 2012, he went after stage wins and scored a big one atop Willunga on Australia Day.
“This race certainly suits Gerro’s characteristics,” said White. “He’s put a big emphasis on the race during the last two years, and he has done the same again for the upcoming season. He had an early exit to last year with a broken hip. Now he’s fresh, fit and very motivated.”
The trio of Clarke, Durbridge and Impey are highly capable of providing support across a wide variety of scenarios. They will prove invaluable in laying the foundation that will allow their teammates to achieve sought-after results. Clarke is important for Gerrans in the hillier stages while Durbridge and Impey are equally at ease in the sprint train as they are taking turns on the front of the bunch.
“Clarkey is a very canny rider,” said White. “He can read races very well, and he certainly knows his way around the bunch. He can fill several roles within the team at this race, and we can count on him to fully commit to whatever his job is on any given day.”
“Durbo is also an important part of the equation,” White continued. “Because of his focus on the individual time trial at the National Championships, we know he will be in great shape in three weeks. Like Clarkey, Luke’s versatility adds huge value to our line-up.”
“Daryl has been preparing for the start of the season in the Southern Hemisphere,” said White. “He spends his off season at home in South Africa, and he’s always able to get in very good training. He’s a rider we can count on to perform well at the start of the year, and his inclusion in our team is crucial for our goals.”
Lining up for his eighth Tour Down Under, Hayman will serve as road captain for his new team. It’s the first of many times that Hayman is expected step into this role within the Australian outfit.
“Mat has been around the block a number of times at the Tour Down Under,” said White. “This is his first time working for us of course, and we’re very excited to have him onboard. His experience will be a huge big benefit to our team.”
Orica-GreenEdge for Santos Tour Down Under:
Daryl Impey (RSA), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Matt Goss (AUS), Mathew Hayman (AUS), Michael Matthews (AUS), Simon Clarke (AUS) and Simon Gerrans (AUS)