Australia’s Orica-GreenEdge team, formed just two years ago, achieved its initial goals. It won two Tour de France stages and, as a bonus, the yellow jersey over the last 48 hours.
“Every team wants to be successful at the Tour de France because from a visual point of view that’s where you get the best bang for the buck,” General Manager Shayne Bannan told Cycling Weekly. “To come and win two stages, to have the yellow jersey is the ultimate goal.”
Bannan launched the Australian team with owner Gerry Ryan in 2011 as GreenEdge. The following season last year, it took start in the first division WorldTour. Ahead of the Tour, they welcomed sponsor Orica.
The team was running its stated right track: WorldTour wins, including Simon Gerrans in Milan-San Remo and Matt Goss in the Giro d’Italia’s third stage.
Only Tour de France wins eluded Bannan’s team. It struggled last year. Matt managed two second places in sprints, but that was it.
Whereas Sky’s goal is winning the GC, Orica’s is stages. It came close but ultimately failed. However, it succeeded in learning and in improving.
Orica put time into this year’s Tour. Not only did its nine riders train for it, like all the participants, but they also reconnoitred the certain stages. Just as Sky visited certain mountain passes or the second time trial, Orica previewed medium moutain to flat stages where it could make a difference.
“The time trial was hard to recon because it’s on roads with a lot of traffic, so we never took the guys here because we knew it was flat, not that technical. We filmed it,” Bannan added.
“The main focus was more Corsica. We travelled there the weekend before; the boys visited the key points. They knew the final of third stage.”
Gerrans won the third stage to Calvi on Monday and moved within one second of the yellow jersey. With the win yesterday in the Nice team time trial, he had enough time over his rivals to take the lead.
Orica not only beat Omega Pharma, with World Champion Tony Martin, by one second, but it also beat Sky. For Bannan that has special meaning because as former head coach of Australian Cycling his team often faced off with Great Britain in team pursuits.
More importantly, however, Bannan delivered his team to the top yesterday. The GreenEdge project, launched at the 2011 Tour Down Under, achieved its initial goals.
“We’ve ticked most boxes, but we still have some work to do in some areas,” Bannan said. “Certainly after this year it’s time to focus on the next stages of our progression.”
Orica, according to Gerry Ryan, will focus more on GC wins and developing a Grand Tour winner in its next phase.
For now, it enjoys version one. Gerrans leads the team and the Tour into stage five today, 228.5 memorable kilometres to Marseille.
Tour de France 2013: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index