2016 has been declared the best season yet for ORICA-BikeExchange after it officially came to an end.
The Australian outfit recorded 28 UCI victories in its fifth year, including 17 WorldTour wins, six Grand Tour stage victories and two monuments.
In addition to some of its biggest victories, ORICA-BikeExchange also celebrated some of its most defining podiums with two Grand Tour general classification podiums and the best young rider jersey at the Tour de France.
General manager Shayne Bannan heralded the team’s performance in a breakout season. “If you had presented us with these results at the start of the season, we would have asked where to sign,” Bannan said. “Every year our group continue to push the limits and we can absolutely claim this season as our best to date.”
“Our victories come from 11 different riders, another pleasing fact, and each of them with an individual story that goes well beyond standing on the top step of a podium.
“You have to highlight Mat Hayman’s victory at Paris-Roubaix as one of the stand out moments of the season. To come back from that wrist injury to win in his 15thattempt is something that will motivate and inspire our riders to keep fighting for many years to come.”
Bannan said it wasn’t just the victories that defined ORICA-BikeExchange’s season
“Last year we started to introduce ourselves into the general classification game, but this year with have taken a big leap in this regard,” Bannan explained.
“We now start week-long races and Grand Tours with genuine winning options, whether that be with Esteban Chaves, Simon or Adam Yates.
“Whilst we saw results such as second at the Giro d’Italia, fourth at the Tour de France and third at the Vuelta a Espana in our future, we are the first to admit that this success has come even faster than we had hoped.
Down Under Domination
As motivated as ever for the home WorldTour season start, ORICA-BikeExchange claimed the People’s Choice Classic, four of the six stages and the overall title thanks to Simon Gerrans and Caleb Ewan.
Bannan: “We started the year as always with a lot of pressure at the Tour Down Under and yet again the boys faced it with determination, winning four of the six stages and taking out the overall. To leave Australia with five WorldTour victories before you even hit Europe is about as good as it gets.”
From Hell to Heaven
It might be the ‘Hell of the North’ for some but in 2016 it turned into heaven for Mathew Hayman and ORICA-BikeExchange.
Just five weeks after fracturing his right radius Hayman returned for his 15th attempt at Paris-Roubaix, a race he has always declared unfinished business with, to claim one of the most inspiring and deserving victories of all time.
Bannan: “This win is one we will talk about for many years to come and when we do the goose bumps will return. It was an unbelievable moment for Mat and for the team and one of those true stories of determination and grit.”
Fight for Pink
A queen stage victory and dramatic battle in the Italian mountains saw ColombianEsteban Chaves claim second overall at the Giro d’Italia – ORICA-BikeExchange’s best result and first ever Grand Tour podium.
Chaves started the penultimate day of the Giro d’Italia in the pink leader’s jersey and after an epic battle with veteran Vincenzo Nibali on the penultimate day, the 26-year-old settled for second but not without a warning to the world that we had hit the general classification stage.
Bannan: “We may have lost the pink jersey on the penultimate day, but our disappointment was quickly replaced with content, pride and excitement. We knew immediately that the 2016 Giro d’Italia was just the start of our Grand Tour journey.”
Historic White Jersey
In just his second attempt at the world’s biggest race, Adam Yates became the first British rider to win the best young rider award at the 2016 Tour de France.
Despite not starting with general classification ambitions, the then 23-year old rode an impressive race to finish in fourth place overall and once again cemented to the world the young talent amongst the ORICA-BikeExchange ranks.
His performance was boosted by a strong team effort that also saw Michael Matthews claim his first Tour de France stage victory.
Bannan: “We knew that Adam is an incredible talent and full of potential and his performance at the Tour de France this year showed that to the world. One of the most pleasing elements of his performance was his poise and control in what is a frantic and stressful race. As a young rider, he showed wisdom well above his years.”
Four stage wins, two race-defining team rides and third overall made for a spectacular Vuelta a Espana for ORICA-BikeExchange.
Briton Simon Yates (stage 6), Belgian Jens Keukeleire (stage 12) and Danish Grand Tour debutant Magnus Cort (Stage 18 and 21) all claimed glory whilst still supporting Esteban Chaves to third and Yates to sixth overall in another inspiring team effort.
Bannan: “To finish the final Grand Tour off like the previous two, well above our expectations, was another gratifying moment for the team this year. The results are a sign of talent, but they are just as much about the belief our riders and staff have for this team.”
In the perfect end to the WorldTour season, Esteban Chaves maintained his impressive Vuelta a Espana form to take out Il Lombardia – one of cycling’s famous monuments.
In the process, Chaves became the first non-European winner in the 110-year history of the race and the first ever Colombian winner of a monument.