GreenEdge vs Team Sky - could this be cycling's version of The Ashes?

Verbal sparring between rival team bosses as TDU organsisers start planning for next year

by Simon_MacMichael   January 23, 2012  

GreenEdge being presented (Photo - Santos Tour Down Under:Regallo)

The 2012 UCI WorldTour season may only be a week old, but there are already signs that the rivalry between new team GreenEdge and Team Sky could develop into cycling’s equivalent of The Ashes, with the Australian outfit’s sports director Matt White hitting back at criticism of his riders’ fitness made by his counterpart at the British team, Sean Yates.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Santos Tour Down Under have said that the success of this year’s race, which featured the first hilltop finish in its 14-year history, has led them to consider introducing other new elements next year.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Yates had queried the fitness levels of the GreenEdge team, other than former Team Sky rider Simon Gerrans, who won the overall title in the Santor Tour Down Under yesterday, and Cameron Meyer.

Yates said that the team had not '”attacked the season in great shape,” adding that “in general they're not in good enough condition. Obviously to get in good condition you've got to train and be serious,” added Yates. “Their state would suggest that's not been the case.”

White, who is also pro men’s road co-ordinator for Cycling Australia’s high performance programme, said of Yates’s comments: “'He's entitled to his opinion, but at the end of the day he has the team with the biggest budget in world cycling, and we won the bike race. I don't know why they are barking up that tree.''

Whether Team Sky does have the biggest budget is open to question – Katusha and BMC are thought to enjoy similar levels of backing – and in the interests of accuracy we should point out that while Gerrans won the overall title, it was RadioShack-Nissan that won the team competition at last week’s race, although neither they, nor GreenEdge, actually won a stage.

Where any rivalry between GreenEdge and Team Sky is most likely to be manifest will be in the sprint as former HTC-Highroad team mates Matt Goss and Mark Cavendish go head to head for the first time since the Manxman beat the Australian to the world championship in Copenhagen by half a wheel.

“It's the Olympic year,” said White. “There is no secret that we want to beat them at the Olympics. 'Gossy' wants to beat 'Cav'. Cav is the fastest guy in the world, and we will be having some big battles with him. But they have a super roster, a very talented roster, and they have no excuses for not winning races,” he added.

Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur also hailed GreenEdge as making a big contribution to the success of this year’s race, and said that the team, which lacks a genuine Grand Tour overall contender, could mount a challenge to Cavendish’s defence of his green jersey at the Tour de France in July.

"GreenEDGE were big for us, of course," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The debut of Australia's first team at this level, winning the race, the media has been huge.

"They will absolutely perform anywhere in the world, in any race,” he added. “They're a strong contender for the green jersey in the Tour.’

The inclusion this year of that Stage 5 summit finish on Old Willunga Hill meant that Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel, despite winning three stages, never stood a chance of winning the overall title for what would have been a record third time.

Instead, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde and Gerrans battled it out for that stage, won by the Spaniard; both would finish the race in Adelaide yesterday on the same time, the Australian winning the overall title by virtue of having consinstently placed higher than Valverde during the six stages of the race.

Turtur told the newspaper that he is looking to introduce another new feature to the race – what that is, he wouldn’t say, although an individual time trial would seem an obvious option – although he needs to get local councils on board first.

"If this other thing comes off, I think it has the same level of change as Old Willunga, with different elements," he explained.

"If we're able to do what we're proposing, it splits it right down the centre in terms of sprinters and allrounders. At the moment, we have an imbalance in favour of sprinters.

"Talking with the teams, they think what we've done this year [with the inclusion of that hilltop finish] has really evened it up in terms of that issue, with sprinters v all-rounders."

The race, which held its first edition in 1999 and which acts to showcase South Australia to the tourist market, received a huge boost in 2009 when Lance Armstrong used it to launch his comeback with Astana, his participation ensured by the payment of an appearance fee rumoured to run into seven figures, although the precise amount has never been confirmed.

The seven-time Tour de France champion was back in 2010 with his new RadioShack team, and again last year for what would prove to be the final race of his career. That three-year participation by the Texan in the Santos Tour Down Under saw the estimated economic impact of the race more than double from below A$20 million in 2008 to A$43 million last year.

"He served his purpose - his presence here shot us, I believe, five years ahead of where we were hoping to be," insisted Turtur.

Being able to host the WorldTour debut of Australia’s first ever top-level pro team helped keep the interest in the race particularly high this year despite Armstrong’s absence, but by this time next year, the novelty may have worn off.

“Now we need to consolidate and just find where our level is," added Turtur.
 

13 user comments

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Can't say I saw too much of Sky during the TDU... anyone else?

JediNeo's picture

posted by JediNeo [32 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 9:44

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Nooooooooooo...... Cycling used to be free of this colonial/post-colonial media-fuelled bullsh*t. Will do my best to ignore it, but I am not going to enjoy this reduction of cycling to the level of rugby or (shudder) cricket. Sad

I speak as born kiwi, naturalised Aussie and UK permanent resident. I know this one from all sides. Obviously I will have to move to Iceland, burn my passports, cut off the internet and start a one-man Audax chapter where the only allowable distance is 1200km.

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posted by alotronic [223 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 9:45

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As good as Cav is, could a team (Sky) with 2 strategic goals (ie Overall and green) beat a team such as GE, with just one strategic goal? HTC's domination last year says that specialism rules, but then it did take a while for that train to be honed to perfection.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2476 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 9:56

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If you take away Gerrans then Greenedge offered absolutely nothing to the TDU, even the UniSA offered more and the final placings showed that.

It's typical Aussie rubbish.

In the team placings Sky were second and Greenedge were 14th so i think Yates' comments were spot on.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2301 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 10:10

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JediNeo wrote:
Can't say I saw too much of Sky during the TDU... anyone else?

They finished second in the team compo behind RSNT. Two riders in the top 7 of the GC doesn't seem too shonky, to borrow an Aussie word Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7227 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 10:14

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notfastenough wrote:
As good as Cav is, could a team (Sky) with 2 strategic goals (ie Overall and green) beat a team such as GE, with just one strategic goal? HTC's domination last year says that specialism rules, but then it did take a while for that train to be honed to perfection.

GE dont have a lead out train, simple.

Goss was nowhere near the line on any of the stages and other than the hill finish it was a sprinters race.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2301 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 10:19

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Sky have a proven leadout, and they probably won't be focussing on dual ambtions in every race.

Wiggins, Boassen Hagen, Thomas, Hunt and Swift can all be members of the train... Devil

Wiggins is undoubtedly one of the top riders in the world, turning out olypmic winning performances one week, and top results on the road as well, not to mention silver in world TT, like to see Tony Martin doing that, and supporting the hopes of an eager nation too. Devil

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1719 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 13:34

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I'm interested in a Renshaw vs Goss sprint. I think Mark Renshaw may be better.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1288 posts]
24th January 2012 - 12:01

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Gerro's TDU overall means nothing in relation to the Olympics or any of the big European races - the Tours or even the Classics. It's a nice start, an early season Aussie media wave that grEEnEdgE can surf on for a while, and which is psychologically a good start for the team. The win in their first race, at home (and the only significant race on home soil) is, for now, a big deal.

Who knows what Matt White really feels about Sean's comments and what Sean really meant by them, but the proof will come later on the road.

You can be sure Cavendish will use any of this bluster and talk of Goss as a rival as motivation (not that he needs it).

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1725 posts]
24th January 2012 - 15:38

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alotronic wrote:
Nooooooooooo...... Cycling used to be free of this colonial/post-colonial media-fuelled bullsh*t. Will do my best to ignore it, but I am not going to enjoy this reduction of cycling to the level of rugby or (shudder) cricket.

Damn right. THis is media fuelled cack - cycle races are decided on the roads, not in the papers, forums, blogs etc. Don't get confused...!

minnellium's picture

posted by minnellium [60 posts]
25th January 2012 - 14:49

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minnellium wrote:
cycle races are decided on the roads, not in the papers, forums, blogs etc.

On the roads... and in the laboratory/courtroom?

Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7227 posts]
25th January 2012 - 15:35

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Sean and Matt are good mates from US postal/Discovery Team time , so this is just a way to get both teams a bit of free publicity !

Going to be interesting when Renshaw , Goss and King Cav head for the first sprint finish !Robbie Mc Ewan was always able to win solo so he will undoubtably help Gossy to max his potential . These three had better watch out for all the other sprinters hungry for the headlines !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [365 posts]
26th January 2012 - 19:46

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alotronic wrote:
Nooooooooooo...... Cycling used to be free of this colonial/post-colonial media-fuelled bullsh*t. Will do my best to ignore it, but I am not going to enjoy this reduction of cycling to the level of rugby or (shudder) cricket. Sad

Me too alotronic, I'm from the uk & much prefered the unbiased coverage that we used to get before the brits started doing well.
When it was just Sean Yates & Robert Millar we got a more even handed approach giving credit were it was due.
Having tolerated years of Phil & Paul's Armstrong & Hincapie obssesion, I thought it was all over for the 'English speaking' baised then along comes the Brits Surprise

I feel some coverage borders on xenophobia P & P are anti spanish an don't try to hide it!

Thank god for eurosport Big Grin

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posted by Paulo [106 posts]
26th January 2012 - 19:56

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