ORICA-SCOTT will start the final Grand Tour of the 2017 season, the Vuelta a Espana, with another firm focus on a general classification result.
The Australian outfit will line up at the Spanish three-week race with two overall hopefuls in 2016 Tour de France white jersey Adam Yates and last year’s Vuelta podium placer Esteban Chaves.
Fresh off a strong performance at the Tour de France, that saw him claim seventh overall and winner of the best young rider competition, Simon Yates gives the team a third option in the mountains.
The 2017 Vuelta a Espana will be the first time ORICA-SCOTT’s trio of young general classification riders will race a Grand Tour together and the first time the Yates brothers will race two three-week races in a single season.
Sport director Neil Stephens said the combination was an exciting prospect and set a positive challenge for the team.
“We have the best general classification riders we can put together, we have all three of them here, and that is going to be a bit of a challenge,” Stephens acknowledged.
“It’s an exciting challenge for us all to focus on, but at the end of the day the team is our leader and all three riders have always fully committed to that.
“We did it at the Vuelta last year with Simon and Esteban and in the final the race is sorted out on the road. Despite finishing with a top 10 himself, Simon was selfless in his support of our podium finish.
“The aim is a team result in Madrid, who it is, it doesn’t matter.”
Supporting the trio is a balanced outfit, well-equipped for the varying terrain throughout the 3324.1km journey from Nimes in France to Madrid in Spain.
“We believe we have a pretty evenly balanced team,” Stephens said.
“We have a couple of big strong guys in Sam Bewley and Svein Tuft who will pilot our leaders around throughout the Vuelta and their importance will start immediately in supporting a decent team time trial to open and a potentially dangerous and windy stage two.
“We have our climbers in Jack Haig, who is in great shape coming into the race from Poland and Carlos Verona who has been getting ready in the hills of Andorra.
“And we have a couple of guys who can handle the intensity of stage finishes, the punchy guys that know where to position and are physically capable of positioning our leaders towards the finals of the stage which is Chris Juul-Jensen and Magnus Cort.”
They nine-rider group will together tackle six flat stages, eight hilly stages, five mountain stages and a team and individual time trial.
Stephens acknowledged a difficult parcours and ‘hot GC field’.
“The race ramps up as it goes,” he explained. “In the first half of the Vuelta there’s some surprisingly difficult stages that don’t look that difficult on paper, but might catch people off guard.”
“When we start getting towards the south of Spain there’s some difficult stages and the general classification will start to really take shape. From there we go to the second time trial, which is going to be important, and we finish with a very difficult last week.
“Looking at the quality of rivals, if we were able to repeat what we did last year and get on the podium in Madrid that would be a really fantastic result.”
ORICA-SCOTT at La Vuelta a Espana (Saturday, 19th August to Sunday, 10 September):
Sam Bewley (NZL, 30)
Esteban Chaves (COL, 27)
Magnus Cort (DEN, 24)
Jack Haig (AUS, 23)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 28)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 40)
Carlos Verona (SPA, 24)
Adam Yates (GBR, 25)
Simon Yates (GBR, 25)