Newcomer GreenEdge enjoys great debut to WorldTour

Newcomer GreenEdge enjoys great debut to WorldTour

ADELAIDE, Australia - Agence France-Presse
Newcomer GreenEdge enjoys great debut to WorldTour

Simon Gerrans from Australia celebrates on the podium after winning the 2012 Tour Down Under in Adelaide. AFP photo

Peloton newcomer GreenEdge put criticism of its early displays on the Tour Down Under to bed by winning the WorldTour opener through Simon Gerrans yesterday.

As the first ever Australian team in cycling’s top tier GreenEdge was expected to make an immediate impact on its “home” race. However the team run by Shayne Bannan and directed by Matt White made fans wait four days before being given a reason to celebrate, with Gerrans climbing into the leader’s ochre jersey on the penultimate stage five.

In yesterday’s final stage, a 90 km street circuit won by two-time race winner Andre Greipel of Germany, GreenEdge worked hard to defend Gerrans’ lead to score a first ever victory in the WorldTour.
For GreenEdge’s main stakeholder, businessman Gerry Ryan, it was an unexpected but welcome start to their maiden season.

“It’s fantastic, it’s been a great journey and this puts the icing on the cake,” said Ryan, who has invested millions into the team to get it up and running and secure its entry to the WorldTour for three years.

With a core of Australian riders, GreenEdge hopes to challenge some of the world’s top teams in most of the 28-race WorldTour events.

Among its ranks are veteran Tour de France stage winners Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen.

New generation

However it also looks to have a bright future with the likes of Jack Bobridge, Cameron Meyer and Luke Durbridge - who are all part of Australia’s four-man track cycling pursuit team that will bid for gold at the Olympics.

Durbridge, the under-23 world champion who recently won the national time trial title, was especially happy as he approaches his first season in the WorldTour. “I can’t be happier. I am a passionate Australian and to see the first WorldTour team for Australia win, you can’t get much better than that,” he said.

McEwen, who is set to retire before the summer, admitted his final race in Australia had special significance. “I joined the team and was really excited about being part of the GreenEdge project, racing in an Aussie team, our national team,” said McEwen, a 12-time stage winner on the Tour de France.”

“It’s a fantastic way to go out as far as Australian racing is concerned.”

During his spell as sports director with Garmin last year White steered Meyer to a narrow victory over Matt Goss on the final stage.

Now at GreenEdge, and in charge of both riders, White was delighted to steer another Australian to the win. “To win the Tour Down Under with our newly crowned national champion, we couldn’t have written a better script. (I’m) elated, just elated,” said White.