A Brakethrough Year
Team rider Svein Tuft summed up the team effort at this year's Vuelta a Espana perfectly stating, "Yes, it's quite something! I've been doing some Grand Tours now but I've never seen anything like this. Guys winning sprint finishes, uphill sprint finishes, hilltop mountain finishes, two guys top 10 GC. These young riders are the future. I don't know where we go from here because it can hardly get any better." It's not just Team ORICA-BikeExchange's performances at the Vuelta but throughout the entire season. A historical win at Paris-Roubaix with Matt Hayman, a stage win and second place in the overall classification of the Giro d'Italia with Esteban Chavez, a stage win and the white jersey at the Tour de France with Michael Matthews and Adam Yates and now an incredible four stage wins and a 3rd and 6th respectively in the general classficiation at the Vuelta a Espana. It has been a brakethrough year for Team ORICA-BikeExchange after a careful build-up of young talents and a resourceful team structure over the past few seasons.
A Tactical Masterpiece
More than once during the ongoing race season, Team ORICA-BikeExchange has proven excellence when it comes down to team tactics. After some time loss of both GC contenders Esteban Chavez and Simon Yates in the ITT on the third to last stage, Chavez saw himself in fourth place overall with a handicap of 1 minute and 11 seconds on a podium spot. The challenging penultimate stage proved the last chance to make up the deficit. After a hectic start, the original plan of the team did not play out and they defined a new plan in the middle of the stage. With an early attack at 45 kilometers to go, Esteban Chavez gapped the major GC contenders and closed in on fellow OBE-rider Damien Howson who was riding in the escapee group. Howson then worked hard to extend the gap to the goup of the leader that also contained Alberto Contador who held 3rd place in the GC. On the last climb, Chavez was able to keep the advantage big enough in order to steal the podium place from Contador by a mere 11 seconds.
For a complete insight into stage 20, check out ORICA-BikeExchange's backstage pass:
And Another Stage Win
Magnus Cort Nilsen's victory on stage 18 came a bit as a surprise to the team but the 23-year old proved tremendous form in the third week of his first ever Grand Tour. On the final stage into Madrid it was again Cort who crossed the line first. "It was a long lead out for Jens and I could feel his speed was dropping a little bit, but luckily there was a small gap and I was able to squeeze through. To get the win is fantastic," said Cort Nielsen. "The main goal for the team was the GC with Chaves and it can be tricky to combine going for stages with a target like that."