Orica-GreenEDGE will have a balanced team at the start of the Vuelta Ciclista Al Pais Vasco on Monday. The week long stage race is one of the hardest races in the calendar and will require strength in depth for the Australian team.
In 2015 Michael Matthews won the first stage and went on to hold the yellow jersey for two days while Simon Yates finished fifth overall also winning the best young rider category.
Last year’s performance has made Yates the leader for the 2016 edition with twin brother Adam Yates riding along ready to support him. The pure mountain stages on Tuesday and Friday will be the key days for the Yates brothers.
Orica-GreenEDGE sport director Neil Stephens is confident that his team can perform well in Spain:
“We have a really good mix of riders for this year’s race, the team is very well balanced,” said Stephens. “It’s always a hard event due to the terrain and the climbers will be very important for us.”
“It’s a really competitive field with lots of the grand tour contenders taking part. We are aiming to be up there with the best guys but we know it won’t be an easy task.”
However, he understands the difficulty of the race which is very tricky right from the start:
“Simon (Yates) achieved a great result here in 2015 and all in all it was a good week for us,” continued Stephens. “It would be fantastic if we can produce that kind of performance again this year. We will have to be on our game from day one, there are eight categorized climbs on the opening stage and the racing will start from the first kilometer.”
The race is 852 KM long and has 6 stages which are spread along the North-West of Spain. Five of the six stages will feature several categorized climbs while the sixth is an Individual Time Trial. It will certainly be a tough race as it runs through the Pyrenean mountain range.
Santos Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans is also one of the key riders for stage opportunities with experienced Spanish riders Ruben Plaza and Amets Txurruka providing support and local knowledge.
ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (4-9 April): Michael Albasini (SUI, 34), Simon Gerrans (AUS, VIC, 35), Damien Howson (AUS, SA, 23), Christian Meier (CAN, 31), Ruben Plaza (ESP, 35), Amets Txurruka (ESP, 32), Adam Yates (GBR, 23), Simon Yates (GBR, 23).
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Adam Yates orica greenedge Simon Yates Vuelta Ciclista a Pais Vasco