Like any team new to the World Tour and the Tour de France, Orica-GreenEDGE brings a roster full of stage contenders to Liege. In fact, five of the nine riders on Orica’s roster have Tour stage wins on their resumes, led by Stuart O’Grady with three.
Stage 1 is likely to be the team’s first target, with Michael Albasini and Simon Gerrans both licking their lips at the 2-kilometer, Category 4 climb to the finish. Stages 3 and 7 are probably also highlighted in both riders’ race books, with Peter Weening perhaps looking closely at the Stage 7 finish to La Planche des Belles Filles as well.
Australian sprinters Matthew Goss and Baden Cooke will have their chances during the first week’s flatter stages, with the former likely to have the latter at his service in Stages 2, 4, 5, and 6. As more of a hybrid sprinter than a pure field sprinter, look for Goss to excel on days with more selective finishes—days in which men like Peter Sagan and Oscar Freire are likely to be his chief rivals.
As for weeks two and three, Orica riders will simply take turns covering breakaways, hoping that at some point one or two of them will stick. Gerrans and Weening both have stage wins during the second week at the Tour and can be expected to try and add to their tallies this year.
Overall, the team would love to reward its backers with a stage win in the world’s biggest race. But (if they were smart) team management likely told its sponsors that victories at the Tour could still be 2 to 3 seasons away as it often takes quite a bit of luck and timing to achieve success. After all, it took Garmin and Sky some time before the teams won their first Tour stages. Orica-GreenEDGE could be in for much of the same.
Man of the Hour
Take your pick between Goss, Gerrans, or Albasini. They are the team’s best chances for a stage win.
Seven riders on the team’s Tour roster have won stages at a grand tour and the youngest of the team’s Tour roster is Matthew Goss at 25. He’s hardly an up-and-comer anymore, but he’s youngest of the bunch!
On the Hot Seat
It was about a year ago that Sebastian Langeveld told anyone who would listen that he had signed a contract with GreenEdge—as if he were the greatest thing to hit Australia since sliced bread and Marmite. He hasn’t won a single race since. Doh!
Brett Lancaster has been quietly doing his job for about 10 seasons now by winning a few races along the way, but mostly by being a good teammate.
Follow Whit on Twitter at @whityost