The Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team will not let their focus at the Tour de France slip, pledges head sports director Matt White.
After a hugely successful first nine days, the team’s race will be given the thumbs up no matter what happens before the finish on Sunday week. With two stage wins (stage three by Simon Gerrans and the stage four team time-trial) and four days defending the yellow leader’s jersey worn by Gerrans and South African Daryl Impey, the Orica-GreenEDGE team has been one of the success stories up to Monday’s rest day.
It would be easy for the team to lose its edge, now that their goal of a stage win has been achieved. However, White, says otherwise, telling Fairfax Media: “You’ll find we haven’t lost any of that. We had Simon Clarke (attack in stage 9).
“Mentally, nothing has changed because, as an organisation, we haven’t changed either. We have gone about our business.
“It’s a beautiful way to celebrate a victory, a team time trial, because everyone celebrates it. Everyone celebrated Simon’s (Gerrans’) win as well because they all played their part in it. But guys on the team are still hungry to win. There are more opportunities for all of them.”
White believes the team was judged too harshly on its Tour debut last year, even though they didn’t win a stage as had been hoped.
“It was a massive result for the organisation and a monumental result for Australian cycling to win the team time trial and for Simon (Gerrans) to be the first Australian in an Australian team to win a stage – and for us to put him in yellow by winning the team time trial,” White said of this year’s race so far.
“But I think we were judged unfairly on our Tour (last year). We weren’t duds. We didn’t win anything, but nor did 12 other teams and we were a start-up team.
“Personally we were disappointed (not to win a stage) because that’s the mark we set, but as an organisation we weren’t disappointing.”
While Orica-GreenEDGE won 33 races in its first season last year and have more than 20 so far this year, White believes the success of a team should not be depend solely on how many wins it accrues, but also how active it is in a race, and how often their riders place high or vye for the win.
“In cycling, you’ll lose more than you win. A team races more than 200 days a year,” White said. “When I was at Garmin (as a sports director), it took four years to win a stage of the Tour. And in sprinting, the difference between winning and losing can be very small.
“When you look at the statistics, we did feature in a lot of stages of the Tour (last year). We all have to deal with criticism when its fair. “Professional sport is a business, so we are here to perform and for our sponsors, and last year we did; but we didn’t get that win we were looking for.”
White is confident Orica-GreenEDGE will make best of its opportunities when the Tour resumes on Tuesday for the 197km 10th stage from Saint Gildas des Bois to Saint Malo in Brittany. The stage is largely flat and should suit sprinters’ teams like Orica-GreenEDGE.
All their resources will be put behind Australian sprinter Matt Goss in his bid to break a winning drought dating back to March when he won stage two of the Tirreno-Adriatico race.
The sprinters will also get more opportunities after Wednesday’s stage 11 time-trial on Thursday and Friday.
As pressure mounts on Goss for a stage win at the Tour, White says the Tasmanian is in better form now than he was at the Tour start.
“‘Gossy’ left the Pyrenees (on Sunday) better than he went in to them I think,” White said.
“He went through a bit of a rough patch through the first few days of the Tour. But he handled that stage (on Sunday) quite well.
“There are a couple of stages that suit him more than others this week.
“We will still be 100 per cent behind helping him out. His personal goal is to win a stage here and we will be will be supporting him.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.