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Orica-GreenEedge has confirmed a 25-man roster that will give the team a well-rounded squad as it embarks on a fifth season as Australia’s first and only WorldTour team.
In an active negotiation year, the construction of the 2016 team included eight omissions, ten contract extensions and seven new signings.
“We had a lot of contracts up at the conclusion of this year and as a result we have probably seen the most roster movement in the team’s history,” sport director Matt White said. “But after all is said and done, we are extremely pleased with the team we have put together and are excited for what the collective unit can produce next year.”
Amongst the seven new additions are three young Australians – signed almost 12 months ago – who will step up from under-23 ranks.
After consecutive second places at the most prestigious junior race, Tour de l’Avenir, 20-year-old Robert Power and 22-year-old Jack Haig join a growing list of talented young climbers like Esteban Chaves and Adam and Simon Yates.
Their companion Alexander Edmondson (21), a former individual pursuit world champion, will follow a similar program as Michael Hepburn as the pair balance road and track commitments in an attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.
“Rob and Jack are the only Australians in history to podium at the Tour de l’Avenir and Alex has really stepped up a notch this year too, his victory at the under-23 Tour of Flanders was a particular standout and another first for an Australian rider. We are looking forward to seeing them grow and develop in our ranks for years to come.” said White
At the other end of the spectrum, White stressed the importance of retaining Orica-GreenEdge’s experience, including the team’s oldest members.
“With such a talented younger generation of riders, it’s easy for people to forget the importance of our elder statesmen but guys like Mat Hayman, Svein Tuft and Michael Albasini are amongst the first and most important to commit to,” White explained.
“They have countless years of experience between them, and it’s crucial for us that we retain their leadership and knowledge to guide the development of those who will eventually step up to be the leaders of this team.”
Complimenting the existing experience will be that of a series of new established signings.
At 35 and 32, Spanish pair Ruben Plaza and Amets Txurruka will play major roles in the mountains, whilst Chris Juul-Jensen will draw on invaluable knowledge from his support role in Alberto Contador’s Giro d’Italia victory this year.
Similarly, Slovenian Luka Mezgec brings the knowledge of working with one of the world’s best sprinters in Marcel Kittel to the sprint train for the likes of Caleb Ewan and Magnus Cort.
“One of the main reasons for the number of changes for next year is an expansion in the team’s objectives after some breakthrough performances in 2015,” White said.
“With riders like Chaves and the Yates boys really putting themselves on the world stage, it was time we supported them with further assistance in the mountains.
“Likewise, Luka will add another string to our sprint train and all together we have a group of athletes that really can tackle any terrain across all race formats – one-day races, week-long Tours and Grand Tours. Bring on 2016.”
2016 Orica-GreenEdge Squad:
Michael Albasini (SUI, 34)
Sam Bewley (NZL, 28)
Esteban Chaves (COL, 25)
Magnus Cort (DEN, 22)
Mitch Docker (AUS, VIC, 29)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, WA, 24)
Alexander Edmondson (AUS, SA, 21)
Caleb Ewan (AUS, NSW, 21)
Simon Gerrans (AUS, VIC, 35)
Jack Haig (AUS, VIC, 22)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, NSW, 37)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, QLD, 24)
Damien Howson (AUS, SA, 23)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 30)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 26)
Jens Keukeleire (BEL, 26)
Michael Matthews (AUS, ACT, 25)
Christian Meier (CAN, 30) –
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 27)
Ruben Plaza (ESP, 35)
Robert Power (AUS, WA, 20)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 38)
Amets Txurruka (ESP, 32)
Adam Yates (GBR, 23)
Simon Yates (GBR, 23)
2016 Orica-GreenEdge Squad Stats:
No. of riders: 25
No. of Australians: 11
No. of internationals: 14 (2 CAN, 2 DEN, 2 ESP, 2 GBR, 1 BEL, 1 COL, 1 NZL, 1 RSA, 1 SLO, 1 SUI)
Youngest rider: Robert Power (20)
Older rider: Svein Tuft (38)
Average age: 27.2