Simon Gerrans bound for Tour de France
CYCLING: Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans has been identified as the 'man most likely' as the Australian-owned Orica-GreenEDGE team prepares for the 2014 Tour de France which starts on Saturday night in Leeds, England.
Team director Matt White announced the nine-man line-up yesterday, with five Aussie riders on the list.
White said Gerrans, who wore the leader's yellow jersey briefly last year after taking out the third stage and backing up to win stage four, the team time trial, deserved to be the team leader.
"Over the last couple of years Simon has won some of the biggest races on the calendar," White said. "He's won Milan-San Remo, Liège and a stage of the Tour de France. We know we can count on Simon to deliver results when the stakes are high."
With the team again targetting stage wins, White also identified rising star Michael Matthews, Simon Clarke, Swiss ace Michael Albasini and 21-year-old Brit Simon Yates as its best hopes.
It will be the first Tour de France for Matthews who held the leader's jersey for six days in the first of this year's grand tours, the Giro d'Italia.
White also said he believed the start of this year's Tour would be the "toughest first week in the modern era".
"The second stage in Sheffield is really like a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Then to top that off, the second stage back in France is like a mini Paris-Roubaix. It's certainly got it all," he said.
TEAM: Jens Keukeleire, Luke Durbridge, Mathew Hayman, Michael Albasini, Michael Matthews, Simon Clarke, Simon Gerrans, Simon Yates, Svein Tuft.