Two of Orica-Scott’s most promising young riders will lead the Australian team’s ambitions at the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia starting this Friday.
24-year-old Adam Yates, who last year won the Tour de France best young rider’s white jersey, will ride for a strong general classification result whilst the team will also support 22-year-old speedster Caleb Ewan in the sprint finishes.
“We will mix our focus between Adam in the mountains and Caleb on the flat stages,” sport director Matt White said. “It’s a tricky mix, but we aren’t the only people doing it and I am confident with the group we have we can chase both goals with success. We will certainly have something to concentrate on every day for the next three weeks.”
The century edition of Italy’s Grand Tour comes with much prestige and as a result has attracted a top field of general classification riders. The start list and an extremely difficult final week will make the overall victory a challenging task for any rider.
“We certainly don’t go in as the favourites for the general classification,” White admitted. “Even though we’ve had a couple of big names pull out, it’s still the best field ever assembled. It’s easier to list who’s not at the Giro than who is, so it’s an all-star cast.”
“It will be Adam’s first Giro d’Italia and it continues his learning process which means we can approach it in a different mindset.
“I think winning the white jersey and a top-10 finish are very achievable goals for him to have.”
Critical to Yates’ final result, particularly in the third week of racing, will be Spanish duo Carlos Verona and Ruben Plaza, who last year played a major role in helping teammate Esteban Chaves to second overall.
“Carlos is going to be crucial and Ruben has recovered from surgery in the off season to be there to offer guidance and experience. He was very reliable with Esteban last year, so we would expect to see the same again,” White said.
Starting on the island of Sardinia, the opening stage of the 2017 Giro d’Italia has a big potential to finish in a bunch sprint, with the opportunity to claim the first maglia rosa of the 100th edition capturing the eyes of the sprinters who will line up.
“(Andre) Greipel and (Fernando) Gaviria are our big sprint rivals this year,” White said. “In Caleb’s second Giro we can really target winning a stage when the opportunities arise and that will start on stage one with the Maglia Rosa the bonus for the winner.”
Supporting Ewan in the sprints will be fellow Australian Alexander Edmondson who has received the call up for his debut Grand Tour thanks to impressive performances at the Tour de Romandie.
“This is Alex’s first full year will a 100% road focus and we have been really impressed with his commitment and performances so quickly. He is someone we believe in and know he is ready to step up for his first Grand Tour.
“Alex and Luka Mezgec are there specifically for the finals with Caleb and then we have versatility of Michael Hepburn and Chris Juul-Jensen and strength and power of Svein Tuft to work across both ambitions.”