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Why Cameron Meyer will light-up California’s GC battle

May 11, 2012

Cameron Meyer can earn a top five GC result at the Amgen Tour of California (AToC) this coming week.

Cam Meyer, by Rob Evans (otbphoto on Flickr)

The 24 year-old from Perth on Orica GreenEDGE recently retired from the track with the goal of becoming a GC rider in week-long stage races. Meyer finished tenth in overall GC at Tirreno-Adriatico, a seven day event in March. It’s a result that was, Meyer told VeloNation, “a real confidence booster” to show he can do well in stage races, and sets him up well for the AToC, as does the California course and this year’s competition.

Orica GreenEDGE sends a squad stacked with Australian road and time trial champions to support Meyer. While it’s the team’s first year at this 2.HC UCI race, nearly one-half of the starters will recognize portions of the course, having raced the AToC once or twice previously.

Several factors can certainly upset Meyer’s ambitions in California. A month off for track worlds. Hungry GC competitors with dialed-in time trialing and stronger climbing skills can best him on a decisive Mt. Baldy finish. And teammates Luke Durbridge and Pieter Weening have been nursing knee injuries.

Pulling off a great result despite these challenges will further demonstrate that Meyer is the GC contender he believes he can become. Third on the individual time trial in Tirreno-Adriatico, Meyer said during the Tour of Turkey that the AToC’s longer, 28 kilometer time trial supports his GC objective. It’s relatively flat and long enough for him to build a bit of a time cushion going into the mountain stages.

Meyer also benefits from the potentially weaker than expected performances of a couple of traditional race favorites. If Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) rides, his recent injuries could hinder his results. Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) should place well but may not win. Horner’s been training at home since the Ardennes Classics – part of his winning formula last year, but he hasn’t delivered stellar time trialing this season, losing 52 seconds and 40 seconds at the Pais Vasco and Tirreno-Adriatico races against the clock. Meyer finished 24 seconds faster than Horner in the nine kilometer Tirreno-Adriatico time trial.

Among other GC threats, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) comes to California with great form and results; he could best Meyer at the Mt. Baldy finish but isn’t likely to pull out a better time trial. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) will also fight Meyer for a top five finish. Fellow Australian Sutherland starts the race on a motivational high after winning the Tour of the Gila a few days ago.

Counting Horner, and tossing in Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) – the 20 year-old climbing phenom who smashed the time trial at the Gila, Meyer faces just seven true potential threats. Mix in a little luck, and Meyer can fly out of California with his best GC result of the season.

With the team’s roster in Italy clearly set up to support sprinter Matt Goss and the Italian race’s profile turning lumpy and then mountainous at the end of next week, Orica GreenEDGE fans might discover more excitement in tracking Meyer’s AToC journey. SBS will provide live coverage.

The battle for GC position, perhaps the most prestigious among pro-cycling prizes, produces exciting racing, and even more so when a young rider vies for overall race leadership. RadioShack-Nissan and BMC hunger for a great result after so-so seasons thus far; they will engage Meyer and Orica GreenEDGE to a hard-fought battle. A top GC spot for the young Meyer will be one he and the team can feel especially proud of in its first year as it builds talent for the future.

There’s another reason why Orica GreenEDGE will treat fans to great racing in California. The AToC has become an important preparation race for Tour de France contenders who prefer not to wear themselves out in the Giro. As such the possibility of a return invite next year to California for Orica GreenEDGE should also motivate the team to achieve good results. A 2.HC UCI race like the AToC can only invite at maximum 50% World Tour teams; with eight World Tour teams invited this year, that leaves ten who can’t send riders to California.

Robbie McEwen’s retirement from racing after the AToC will draw a lot of attention in California. But McEwen’s celebrations won’t spoil Meyer’s potential party. Based on McEwen’s statements to the press about his last race, and the fact that he continues with the team in an advisory capacity, McEwen’s first priority is a great result by the team. Which for the squad traveling to the Sunshine State, is the GC result Meyer dreams about.

Orica GreenEDGE roster at Amgen Tour of California (as of May 11): Cameron Meyer, Leigh Howard, Luke Durbridge, Matt Wilson, Pieter Weening, Robbie McEwen, Travis Meyer, Wesley Sulzberger.

Race maps and profiles are available on the Amgen Tour of California website.

From → Road Racing

One Comment
  1. Great article. I always love reading your blogs

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