Of all the WorldTour teams in this year’s Giro d’Italia, the most intriguing might be Orica-Greenedge. They have two new and fascinating cards to play that seem sure to shake up the race at some point.
For La Corsa Rosa, the Aussie squad brings Columbian climber Esteban Chavez and sprinter Caleb Ewan, mountain goat and pocket rocket.
Chavez will tackle his first Giro as the team’s GC hopeful. The little kid with the transcendent big smile is down on everyone’s list as a possible dark horse.
After his breakthrough performance in last year’s Vuelta a Espana, where he finished 5th overall, wore the red leader’s jersey and won two stages, he proved he has the physical amd mental talent to prosper in a grueling three week race.
Chavez is one of those feel-good stories that pro cycling needs so badly. His extensive and major injures three years ago at the Trofeo Laigueglia put his young career in question.
It was a long, slow road back and we had the pleasure of watching that comeback on the sixth stage of the 2014 Tour of California. In 100 degree weather, Chavez out-climbed David De La Cruz of NetApp-Endurarace and race favorite Tom Danielson of Garmin to take a fantastic victory at the summit of the Mountain High Ski Resort.
We remember the press largely ignoring him, more interested in hearing from Danielson about third place rather than hearing from this shy kid with almost zero English language skills.
At the time, he said “I did not think it was possible until the last two kilometers. To beat guys like Danielson, great champions like Bradley Wiggins is a dream come true.” Perhaps that dream will take yet another amazing turn in the Giro.
On the other side of Orica-Greenedge is sprinter Caleb Ewan. The buzz on him is almost out of hand – the next Cavendish, with an even smaller profile in the wind, shoulders in, down low in the bike.
In the early season Tour Down Under, he won two stages and had everybody except Petra and Delilah thinking it was the second coming of the Manxman Boy racer. Along with Fernando Gaviria of Etixx-Quickstep, Ewan represents the next generation of fast men. We’ll see just how fast when he takes on Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel.
The quotes on the Cyclingquotes website pretty much summed up the double shot of Giro goodness. Here’s team director Mat White: “This is new territory for us. We have enjoyed success at the Giro d’Italia in recent years with stage results and consecutive days in the leader’s jersey in 2014 and 2015 but we have never realistically gone into the race looking to challenge for the overall.”
He left out also challenging for the sprints. It’s going to be an intriguing Giro for Orica-Greenedge. One of these two guys is going to make some noise and maybe both.