|Giro 2013: Florence stage|
...with a well balanced mix of ambition and realism: "Winning the opening TTT, chasing stage wins and continuing its development of the team’s young riders." Those are the goals, while riders are Brett Lancaster, Cameron Meyer, Ivan Santaromita, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Michael Matthews, Mitch Docker, Pieter Weening and Svein Tuft. Nobody is super strong at the moment but many have got a good potential and yes, they are mostly young.
“Our first objective in Italy is to win the team time trial,” says Sport Director Matt White. “It will be all hands on deck for the TTT in Ireland. We want to take the maglia rosa and of course hold onto it for as long as possible.” So Svein Tuft is a crucial card: “In addition to playing a key role in the TTT, I also consider Svein one of our road captains. He’s experienced, even-keeled and devoted to his teammates. He will be a huge asset to this group throughout the race.” Brett Lancaster is also an experienced rider: “Aside from his important role in the TTT, Brett will guide the lead-out train in the final kilometres of the sprint stages,” notes White “Brett is very familiar with this role and knows exactly how to get the other guys in the right place as the bunch winds up for the sprint."
Then the youths come, a good group including Luke Durbridge - “Luke produced a fantastic result in the ITT last year, and I really expect that the time trial on stage 12 will suit his characteristics." - Michael Hepburn - only 22, Australian TT Champion, a win in the Tour of Qatar ITT “This will be Heppy’s first Grand Tour It will be a real learning experience for him to get through one of the most beautiful and most challenging races on the calendar. He has had a really solid racing block under his belt this season so far and with that has developed into a more complete road rider.” - Cameron Meyer - “Cam can win a stage. He is a very versatile rider who we are happy to see in the break on any given day. We have seen this aggressive style in the past with him and I expect to see the same rider that we saw at the Vuelta two years ago."
Michael Matthews is already an estabilished name among sprinters: “Michael will be targeting a lot of the stages in the first two weeks of the race. He’s going to face some stiff competition, but we’re confident that he will really benefit from this experience. With the teams support, he’s up for the challenge.” And Mitch Docker was a crucial member of the sprint train that delivered Matthews to Vuelta victories last year: “Mitch has turned into a very consistent member of the team’s lead out train. And with the parcours the way it is, we’ll certainly be relying on him to showcase his talents throughout the Giro.”
As far as Pieter Weening, he has got a special feeling for the Giro because he already won some stage here and in 2011 he spent four days in the maglia rosa. “Weening loves the Giro. The style of racing in Italy makes it a perfect race for him. He is going really strong right now and will be going full gas from the start. Later in the tour he’ll pick and choose stages that suit him. He will definitely be on the hunt for stage wins.”
Ivan Santaromita is the Italian National Road Champion and he has his eye on the overall. “Santa is aiming for the best possible general classification result he can produce. The team has goals beyond the overall, but we will support him as much as we possibly can. We don’t expect him to contend for a podium but we are starting out with a top 10 as our goal.”Finally White makes an interesting reflection: “For me the Giro is a litmus test of a rider’s ability to get through a Grand Tour. If a rider can get through the Giro physically, then he is ready for the more mentally challenging Tour de France.” Do you agree? I rather do.