ORICA-Scott enjoying underdog status in Tour de France
Riders of the Australia’s Orica — Scott cycling team stand on stage during the team presentation ceremony in Dusseldorf, Germany ahead of the start of the 104th edition of the Tour de France.
ORICA-Scott believes the lack of expectation surrounding the team’s prospects at the Tour de France can help it ambush rivals.
Australia’s only World Tour team will enter the race harbouring general classification ambitions for the first time, but also hunting stage wins.
Young Brit Simon Yates will chase an overall result for the first time and Colombian Esteban Chaves comes in underdone after a knee injury.
Team ORICA-Scott pose for a photo ahead of the 2017 Tour de France.
“We’re not coming here with the same pressure as (Team) Sky or Movistar to get the same result,” Orica-Scott sports director Matt White said.
“We’re coming here as Simon’s first attempt to ride the general classification at the Tour de France and Esteban’s first Tour de France. We have a different pressure and that can work in our advantage because we can go on the hunt for stages from time to time.”
One of those may come as early as Saturday’s 14km time trial opener, with former under-23 time trial world champion and dual national champion Luke Durbridge a dark horse in a field missing specialists Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin.
“For me, with a time trial background I would say ‘yeah, for sure, I’m going to give it 100 per cent and go for it,” Durbridge said.
“No one is really going in as a clear favourite, it’s quite open, so who knows? Hopefully you get that day — maybe a tail wind and then a wind change (laughs).
“No, I’ll go full gas, roll the dice and we’ll see.”
Chaves finished second in the Giro d’Italia and third at the Vuelta a Espana last year, but a bout of knee tendinitis that forced him to spend seven weeks off the bike and five months without racing has dulled his electricity.
Asked what he wanted from his first Tour, the ever-smiling Colombian offered a typical response. “The first one (goal) is to enjoy and have fun,” he said.
“After that it is not one secret. We have two contenders here, really good for the GC (general classification), ‘Yatesy’ and me. Yatesy will also go for the white jersey and we will try to do our best for that.”
White said Orica had realistic goals.
“We’d like something in the top ten. We’re going to support Yatesy as good as we can to chase that white jersey all the way to Paris and we are going to see with Esteban as well,” he said
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