Thought I would do a review the 2016 season of Orica Bike Exchange and do a mini review in 2017. There has been little movement at the station with three new arrivals Verona,Kluge and Kreuzeger while out are Matthews,Meyer and Tzurruka - With the fewest changes in roster of any WT team, this suggests OBE is happy with their roster.
2016 was an outstanding season for the team who has switched its emphasis from one day racing to a GC focus. Wins in two monuments including Paris Roubaix and Il Lombardia and a close 2nd in Liege Bastogne Liege will hardly be repeated in 2017. Of course 2 podiums in the Giro and the Vuelta and 4th in the TDF is an outstanding result - As well as 4 stages and GC in the TDU, 2 stages in Paris-Nice and a stage win in Romandy.
I imagine the aim in for 2017 will be at least one or two podiums in GC's - I am not 100% convinced Yates brothers and Chaves can win a GT - One area of weakness in the team has been their performances in one week stage races, outside of the TDU - This should be a major aim for 2017 and with the talent at their disposal this should be achievable - The team should again be competitive at the monuments ( excluding Flanders ) and the semi classics - OBE will miss Matthews in the one day races in the back end of the season, so will hope Ewan and Cort can step up more.
Michael Albasini - A valuable contributor who won his usual stage at Romandy as well as a second at LBL - A versatile rider at the tail end of his career who still has much to offer.
Sam Bewley - The workhorse of the team who provides protection for his team-mates in the flat lands and cross winds. Keeps on keeping on.
Esteban Chaves - Won Il Lombardia, a stage at the Giro as well as 2nd in GC at the Giro and 3rd at The Vuelta - TT will always be his achilles heel in GC's, but every year his answered challenges thrown down by the team.
Magnus Cort - Had a brilliant year for a second year pro winning 2 stages at the Vuelta, as well as being strong at the end of the race - Cort is a classics rider waiting to happen.
Mitch Docker - Had an injury interrupted 2016 but his career is at the cross-roads. Has failed to finish a GT for two years, which is not good for a GC focused team - Can provide assistance to the classics team as well as a lead out for Ewan - Must complete a GT in 2017.
Luke Durbridge - Had a strong showing in 2016 in both the classics and GT - Has a big engine which is invaluable at different times - Could see him podium in a classics/monument in his career.
Alexander Edmondson - Spent most of his first year preparing for the Olympics - Yet to see much but allegedly has a big engine and seen as a classics rider.
Caleb Ewan - Had a decent 2nd year up against the big sprinters - Improved over the year to be more competitive in the final against the big sprinters - Think he needs to show more mongrel in a finish, but still 2 stages at TDU, and a win at Hamburg is satisfactory - Will need to add another string to his bow because besides sprinting, he can do little else - Showed some aptitude on the cobbles and can say I have no issues with his endurance.
Simon Gerrans - A reduced leadership role in 2016 but still delivered 2 stages and GC at the TDU and more of a support role in Europe - This will most likely be his go in 2017, though I believe he will be one of the two team leaders at MSR. A year by year proposition.
Jack Haig - A very good neo-pro year. Had a heavy workload and managed to complete the Vuelta. Finished 2nd GC at the Tour of Slovenie which indicates his potential.
Matthew Hayman - The consumate team-mate who rides in the wind each day and can be involved in a spring lead out - Of course he reached the 'Holy Grail' at Paris Roubiax - Near the end of his career.
Michael Hepburn - A fairly uninspiring year in which large parts were preparing for the Olympics - A big engine rider who can be effective as a domestique - A make or break year.
Damian Howson - A good lieutenant who works well with Chaves - Did some excellent work in the GT's and is improving as a rider.
Darryl Impey - One of the best domestiques in the business - Versatile in most terrains, team-oriented,big engine and tactically astute. Worth his weight in gold.
Chris Juul-Jensen - Had a very good first year at OBE - A real workhorse who plays the team game - Would like to get a leadership role at one of the early season stage races.
Jens Keukeliere - A consistent season. His strength is cobbled classics though he had some bad luck in 2016 - Performed excellently at the Vuelta and managed to win a stage - A valuable rider.
Cheung King Lok - The mystery rider from HK who joined in April 2016 but never raced for OBE after the Olympics - Seemed to struggle with the pace of European races and never raced at the WT level. Apparently will be focusing on track in 2017.
Luka Mezgec - Main lead out sprinter for Ewan - Showed some potential in this role and we'll see how the relationship develops in 2017. Felt he was a bit off his best form in 2016. Could be a make or break year.
Ruben Plaza - Had a solid year but was derailed when S.Yates was suspended, forcing him to back in the TDF after a tough Giro. Expect better with a more settled role in 2017.
Robert Power - A natural climber whose neo-pro year was derailed by injury. Started racing in August and was give a gentle program to prepare for 2017. A very talented rider.
Svein Tuft - The engine room of the team continues chugging away. Could be his last year.
Adam Yates - Thought he was riding well early in 2016, though he was mainly supporting Simon at that stage. Of course he jumped out of the ground to grab 4th in GC at the TDF as well the Young Rider GC. Needs to work on his TT and ensure his season doesn't end at the TDF.
Simon Yates - Finished off the year well with a stage win at the Vuelta as well as 6th in GC - Thought he ws struggling a bit early in the year, before his 4 month suspension. Again its a matter of building on gains from the last three years.
Carlos Verona - Transferred to OBE in August 2016 so should now be comfortable in the team - His role will be as a domestique at GT's.
Roger Kluge - Another big engine rider who will have a dual role as a sprint lead out and utility at GT's
Roman Kreuzeger - A big ticket item with big expectations. Has three key roles as a super domestic at the TDF, Ardennes Classics and one week stage races.
One wish list rider for 2018 is Geraint Thomas - And expect one or possibly two young Aussie riders to be signed.
Anyway there are few posters with Aussie connections who are free to add to this post.