Aussie ace Simon Gerrans will bid to kick off his 2014 season with victory in front of his home fans after Orica-GreenEDGE announced a strong line-up for the Tour Down Under.
Gerrans claimed overall Tour Down Under victory on the team’s first ever WorldTour outing in 2012, and after a strong 2013 campaign which saw Gerrans win two Tour de France stages, the 33-year-old is keen to make a winning start this year.
Gerrans, who also won the Adelaide race in 2006, will lead a strong line-up which features five of his compatriots, including debutant Mathew Hayman, who signed from Team Sky in the winter.
Hayman will act as road captain for the team – a role he is expected to hold throughout the season – while Gerrans guns for overall victory.
Sprinters Matt Goss and Michael Matthews are also included, with Simon Clarke and Luke Durbridge providing support.
South African Daryl Impey, who last year became the first African to wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, completes the line-up.
Team boss Matt White said: “As an Australian team, this is a very important race for us. We always want to do well at the Tour Down Under.
“We have a strong team and everyone is really motivated to bring home some good results in front of our Australian fans. We’re targeting stage wins and focused on the overall. We have a number of options to achieve these goals.”
And White believes the Melbourne-born riders is in a good position to live up to expectations.
“This race certainly suits Gerro’s characteristics,” he said. “He’s put a big emphasis on the race during the last two years and he has done the same again for the upcoming season.
“He had an early exit to last year with a broken hip. Now he’s fresh, fit and very motivated.”
If Gerrans is to be successful in his home country, however, he will have to fight off fellow Aussie favourites Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), both of whom have confirmed their desire to start their seasons with victory in their home race.
Orica-GreenEDGE squad for Tour Down Under 2014