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“It has been a dream come true to race for an Aussie team. Every year has been slightly better. I’ve gotten stronger and scored more results each year," Howard says

Photo: Sirotti

LEIGH HOWARD

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

MITCHELL DOCKER

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

MITCHELTON-SCOTT

TEAM PROFILE
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NEWS
07.11.2013 @ 18:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In 2014, Orica-GreenEDGE will maintain their strong emphasis on the sprints and today they team boosted its train for the bunch kicks. Trusted lead-out man Mitchell Docker and talented sprinter Leigh Howard have both extended their contracts with the team that is also negotiations with former track rider Ki-Ho Choi.

 

From its very beginning in the 2012 season, Orica-GreenEDGE made it clear that it would have a clear focus on the sprints and the team's initial roster was clearly designed to increase its chances of success in the high-speed finishes. The decision paid dividends when Matthew Goss won a stage in the Giro d'Italia and since then, the team's many sprinters have taken several wins at the highest level. Most recently, Michael Matthews won two stages in the Vuelta a Espana.

 

Two of the riders that have played a key role in the success are Leigh Howard and Mitchell Docker. While the latter is known as the strongest lead-out riders in the bunch, the former has mixed sprinting and lead-out duties, winning a stage in last year's Tour of Britain and two race's in this year's Challenge Mallorca.

 

Keen to keep its sprint train intact, the team has decided to extend its contracts with the duo for 2014.

 

Howard is a former track world champion who turned professional with HTC-Columbia in 2010. Already in his first year, he won his first two races and gradually improved his sprinting leg, winning one race in 2011, one in 2012 and two in 2013. He rode the Vuelta in 2011 and was set to play a support role for Goss in this year's Giro but crashed out of the race. He played a key support role for Matthews in the Vuelta.

 

“It has been a dream come true to race for an Aussie team,” he saud. “Every year has been slightly better. I’ve gotten stronger and scored more results each year.”

 

Docker rode at the continental level with Drapac for three years before turning professional with Skil-Shimano in 2009. He won a stage in the 2010 Route du Sud and showed his potential in the cobbled classics.

 

Those result earned him a contract with Orica-GreenEDGE but he endured a major scare at the start of his first season with the team. He crashed heavily during the team training camp in January 2012, breaking his hand and suffering a severe concussion. His injuries sidelined him for more than four months but he came back and has been an integral part of the sprint train in several races, most recently the Vuelta a Espana.

 

“I was really happy with the support the team gave me when I was coming back from my injuries,” he said. “There was never any pressure to return quickly. I think I was able to repay them this year with some good riding in the support roles that I had.”

 

At the same time, the team has opened negotiations with Hong Kong track rider Ki-Ho Choi. Having had much success on the boards, he decided to focus on the road after the London Olympics. This year he won the Tour of Thailand overall and is the reigning national time trial champion. His national federation reports that he is in contact with the Australian team.

 

 "We are still talking with the rider to find out if he is unavailable for the national team," the head of the national team explained in the Chinese press. "Hopefully, we can reach an agreement that allows Choi to ride for the national team when needed."

 

The team has announced the signings of Johan Esteban Chaves, Ivan Santaromita, Mathew Hayman, Damien Howson and Simon and Adam Yates.

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