News: GreenEdge Preview the Tour Down Under

Director Sportif for GreenEdge, Matt White – “Team Sky has got one of the strongest teams in the race”

Matt White, Director Sportif for the GreenEdge cycling team, Australia’s first WorldTour level team, writes that “As we are just days away from our WorldTour debut, I thought it would be a good opportunity to let you all in on my thoughts on how we think we’ll go and who our biggest rivals will be at the Tour Down Under.”

There is a fair amount of excitement amongst the guys. They have a lot of respect for the race and the fact that it’s the first WorldTour event of the year on home soil, we really want to start the year off well. It’s also important for us as a team to get a leg up on the other WorldTour Teams, as there is a relegation system in the WorldTour so we want to make sure we stay in that top tier.

We come to this year’s race with the defending champion Cam Meyer plus Simon Gerrans and Stuart O’Grady who have also won the race between them on three occasions. We chose a well-rounded team keeping in mind the course profile, but also to be ready to face any challenges that the race may throw at us. Last year when I was directing at Team Garmin we went into the race with the idea that it would be suited to Tyler Farrar, but then Cam found himself in a breakaway that managed to stay clear to the finish (the only one to do so since the race became a Pro Tour event). This set him up for the overall victory, so we have to be ready for something left of centre.

Team Selection/Course
There are a few key stages that I think will make life a little tough for the sprinters this year and hopefully work in our favour. The first one is on stage 2 in the run in to Sterling. This year the riders will have to contend the climb to the finish four times in total which is one more than normal. In the past it’s always been a borderline stage for the purist sprinter, so I think the extra time up the finish climb will be enough to split up the field even more and give the opportunists a chance.

Stage 3 to Victor Harbor has been a regular feature on the race and although the profile doesn’t suggest anything major, it’s the cross winds in the run into the finish that can cause some havoc and split the field, so I’ll be making sure the riders are on their toes on this day.

Stage 5 -Finishing on top of Old Willunga Hill will no doubt sort the field out. Normally the race would go over the top, and then descend back down to the town itself. But with the first real hill top finish in the races history, it’s a tough little climb and should just about decide the overall winner.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Simon Gerrans will be one of our key riders vying for overall honours this year. After winning the National Road title last weekend, he’s in great form and will be a valuable asset. Cam Meyer will also play a key role in the race, being the defending champion we’re hoping we can manoeuvre him into a good position this year to challenge again or at the very least play a strong support role. The third rider we’ve got high hopes for is of course Stuart O’Grady. He’s won the race on two occasions, it’s his home town and he’s in pretty good form at the moment, so we’re expecting him to be there or there about. All that said, with McEwen, Goss, Howard and Bobridge making up the team, I’m confident any one of these guys can step up if needed.

Our Rivals
For me, Team Sky has got one of the strongest teams in the race. With three Aussies, (Rogers Sutton and Hayman) that are all in good form, plus the likes of Boasson Hagen, they’re going to be tough to beat. Lotto Belisol with Andre Greipel will also be a strong team. Whether or not he can get over the climbs, only time will tell, but he is a two-time winner. The other Team that I think will go well is Movistar. With Valverde and Rojas in their line up, the course really suits both their styles. If on form, they could be a real threat for the overall.

So if you’re in Adelaide and out on course, make sure you give the guys a big cheer, they’ll really appreciate it and will be doing their best to get a home town victory.

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