Australia’s Orica-GreenEdge team enjoyed a fruitful spring, but found the Tour de France to be a different beast. If it keeps going along the same path, fighting but falling short, the team will be empty-handed when the race ends in Paris on Sunday.
“Does success mean coming away with a win?” General Manager Shayne Bannan said to Cycling Weekly. “Yeah, a win would be really nice, but I think, success is really just throwing everything at it and hopefully getting a good result.”
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Bannan began the team along with businessman Gerry Ryan and saw it to its debut this season. They have nothing to be ashamed about seven months into their first season.
Simon Gerrans won the first stage race of the year – and on home ground – in the Tour Down Under. He went on to win the Milan-San Remo classic. Matt Goss helped the team to a time trial win in Tirreno-Adriatico and took a stage win in its first three-week tour, the Giro d’Italia. Michael Albasini won the Tour of Catalonia and Luke Durbridge won the Critérium du Dauphiné prologue ahead of Bradley Wiggins.
Those successes and a stated aims of stage victories and the green jersey placed high expectations on Orica in the Tour. Sky had the same issue in 2010, when it debuted to win the Tour with Wiggins. It came way with zero wins and 24th place for Wiggins.
“The contrast there is that we did come in with GC ambitions,” Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. “I stand by that really. I think we are where we are now because we set out on that route. We are now in our third year, in a situation where…”
He recalls the team’s two podium places last year in the Vuelta a España with Wiggins and Chris Froome, the string of stage race wins this year with Wiggins – Paris-Nice, Romandy and Dauphiné.
“In our first year, we were a long way off that, but you have to go through that learning to get where you want to be.”
Orica’s Matt Goss led Mark Cavendish to wins in HTC-Highroad before they went their separate ways this year. Yesterday, he placed second to Cavendish, but his frustration is showing.
On the hot stage to Pau on Monday, he and Orica looked to Lotto-Belisol to lead the group and pull back the escape. It was a stand off, both teams lost, but Lotto at least already had three stage wins in the bag with André Greipel. Plus, it is protecting Jurgen Van den Broeck, who sits in the GC’s top five.
“In the beginning they did work to have a field sprint, but they were beaten by [Peter] Sagan, by André, by Cavendish,” Lotto’s general manager, Marc Sergeant told Cycling Weekly. “[Goss] was always hanging around, not really close. I always say in the first days of the Tour it’s important to win one, because the otherwise the pressure is on you.”
Wiggins cracked in Ax 3 Domaines in 2010. After the stage, he said, “I am f**ked. It is as simple as that… I just haven’t got it, [it’s] disappointing.” The last two years made a huge difference for him. Before the critics judge, they should also give Orica its time.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 18: Cavendish wins Tour stage 18 with irresistible sprint
Stage 17: Wiggins step closer to Paris as Valverde wins stage
Stage 16: Voeckler the Pyrenean king as he wins in Bagneres de Luchon
Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton
Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2012: Related links