Cadel Evans believes Orica – GreenEdge already possesses a stage race general classification contender amid speculation that the Australian team are looking to sign a grand tour leader.
“I see they have one or two [riders] who have the potential to progress from where they are now in time and become contenders for 'GC',” said the BMC rider after speculation that he could be the Orica – GreenEdge target.
The Australian veteran finished the Giro d'Italia in eight over after having worn the pink leader's jersey early in the race, 11:51 minutes down on Nairo Quintana, Movistar's Colombian winner, who finished 2:58 minutes in front of compatriot Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – QuickStep) and 4:04 minutes ahead of Italy's Fabio Aru (Astana).
When asked who exactly he was referring to, however, Evans mentioned only Briton Simon Yates, who – along with twin brother Adam – is in his debut season in pro cycling.
“I have just seen the way he rides and raced at [the Tour of the] Pays Basque. I think he has a lot of potential,” said Evans of Yates' 12th place finish just 3:07 minutes down on winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff - Saxo), who will go into the Tour de France as one of the absolute favourites.
Yates also claimed the best young rider's category in the hilly Spanish race.
The Briton did not compete in the Giro but Evans' mention of the young rider comes after Orica – GreenEdge's sports director Matt White admitted his team were looking for a grand tour leader and that they had a specific target in mind and a few alternatives.
Evans praised the Australian team for their efforts in Italy despite the fact that they only finished with two out of nine riders. Canadian Svein Tuft – who finished together with Australian Michael Hepburn – fought through to finish second to last out of the 156 riders to complete, more than five hours behind Quintana.
22-year-old Hepburn was just one place better than his teammate but will be happy to have survived his first grand tour.
Despite illness and injuries destroying the majority of the Giro for the Australian team they enjoyed an excellent first 10 days.
They won three stages – the stage 1 team time trial in Belfast, stage six to Montecassino and stage nine to Sestola. They held the pink jersey for seven days – Tuft for one and Michael Matthews for six - until Evans took it off him.
Evans also applauded Tinkoff – Saxo's Australian Michael Rodgers for his impressive grand tour comeback after a provisional doping ban for testing positive for clenbuterol at the Tour of Beijing last October, from which he was later cleared by the International Cycling Union.
Rodgers finished the Giro in excellent style winning stage 19 to Cima Grappa and stage 20 to Monte Zoncolan and helping his teammate Rafal Majka to sixth, ultimately earning him an 18th place overall.
“I am happy things turned around for him after all he went through,” Evans said. “I am happy for him personally, but also just for justice and fairness in the world.”
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