New team says Tour title will take time
Australia’s first Tour de France team expects it will take up to four years before they will boast a rider who could win the race.
Orica-GreenEDGE are enjoying an exceptional debut season and should feature prominently in the first week of the Tour, which starts on Saturday in the Belgian city of Liege.
But the team’s strategy has been not to have a Grand Tour contender in their first few seasons, so they can have a steady development.
General manager Shayne Bannan wants to develop a young rider already on their list, such as Australian star Cameron Meyer.
While Meyer is still at least a year away from making his Tour de France debut, the 24-year-old is one of Australian cycling’s top talents.
“We want to develop a Tour team,” Bannan said.
“That will take at least three to four years to do so, to really believe in some of those younger guys in the squad who we think can make the next step into a Grant Tour rider.
“A guy like Cameron Meyer is really just in his apprenticeship years at the moment.”
Bannan said they might try to recruit a ready-made “GC” (general classification) rider if needed.
Defending Tour champion Cadel Evans is unlikely to switch to Orica-GreenEDGE because he has done so well at the American BMC squad over the past three years.
Sprinter Matt Goss will be the main focus for Orica-GreenEDGE at this year’s Tour.
Bannan has targeted six or seven stages that Goss could win, plus the Tasmanian will try to win the green jersey for best points rider.
Simon Gerrans, Swiss Michael Albasini and Dutch rider Peter Weening could also go for stage wins on the medium mountain stages.
Gerrans has enjoyed an exceptional season and won the Milan-Sanremo classic a year after Goss became the first Australian to do so.
The team had an informal reception on Thursday at their hotel in Liege, a few hours before the Tour’s rider presentation.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard sent a message, praising Australian cycling’s current boom.
Australia will have a record 12 starters in this year’s race.
Orica-GreenEDGE owner Gerry Ryan said the team had already enjoyed unprecedented success in their debut season.
“One of the most important things that Shayne and the management team has been able to develop is the culture,” Ryan said.
“It’s not just about the next 23 days (in the Tour), it’s about the whole year and I can very proudly say that the men have won 19 races, the women 16.
“Probably no other team in their first year has achieved those successes.”© AAP 2013