By Nigel Wynn
Spanish climber Amets Txurruka has been signed by the Orica-GreenEdge team for 2016, in order to bolster the Australian WorldTour team's support for young British stage race talent Simon and Adam Yates.
Txurruka is signed from the Spanish Professional Continental outfit Caja Rural, but is probably better known as a rider with the now defunct Basque outfit Euskaltel-Euskadi, where he rode from 2007 to 2012. He's ridden in 14 grand tours, and this year won a stage of the Tour of Norway - a rare victory for a rider who is happy to be recognised as a team helper. He is Orica's first Spanish signing.
“It's easy to see that it's a team with incredible unity and a great atmosphere where goals are defined and met together as a team," said Txurruka of Orica-GreenEdge. "I would like to be able to help achieve those goals wherever the team can use me and see my work contribute to the team's results.”
The signing of 32-year-old Txurruka signals a new direction being taken by Orica-GreenEdge to capitalise on the Grand Tour and stage race potential of the 23-year-old Yates brothers and also Colombian Esteban Chaves, 25. Since its formation in 2012, the squad has focused more on contesting sprints, stage wins and Classics rather than the general classification of bigger, hillier races.
“At Euskaltel, Amets was a right hand man to Samuel Sanchez,” said Orica-GreenEdge sports director Neil Stephens. “He has a heap of experience, he can climb well and he is a guy that is very realistic about his ability and he just wants to ride at the top level.”
“He will be the final rider to support our young climbers in the hillier races. As well as the physical support, doing a turn or moving them up into position, he will also be there to pass on experience and tactics as well."
Both Adam and Simon Yates rode the 2015 Tour de France. For Adam, it was his debut, whilst Simon took part in the 2014 Tour but did not finish it. Both riders completed the 2015 Tour, and made an impression with their climbing ability among the overall contenders and active participation in escape groups.
Adam then carried his form across to take his first WorldTour victory the weekend after the Tour finished, claiming a solo win in Clasica de San Sebastian in Spain, where he beat the likes of Ajelandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) over the testing, hilly course.
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