GreenEDGE to announce first riders soon
Roger Vaughan
19:59 AEST Tue Aug 2 2011

New Australian cycling team GreenEDGE hopes to unveil its first signings later this week - but rising star Richie Porte will not be among them.

Team general manager Shayne Bannan said from Europe he was "pretty confident" of confirming two or three signings soon.

As of August 1, GreenEDGE could officially negotiate with riders.

Bannan also clarified that they had not secured any signatures yet.

GreenEDGE aims to become the first Australian team to race at cycling's highest level, meaning it would gain a start in next year's Tour de France.

Porte stunned the sport last year when he finished seventh overall in the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy).

He made his Tour de France debut last month as a support rider for Saxo Bank team leader Alberto Contador and finished an impressive fifth in the stage-20 time trial.

Porte is out of contract at the end of this season, but Bannan says GreenEDGE are at the back of the queue of teams trying to sign the in-demand Tasmanian rider.

Bannan said GreenEDGE will initially focus on results in stages and one-day classics, while Porte's focus will become high overall results in tours.

"Potentially, he's someone we'd like to talk to in a couple of years," Bannan said.

"I think Richie would need to go to a team that really has general classification as one of its goals.

"There are some really good teams that are after Richie and as much as we'd like to have him at GreenEDGE, I think we'd probably like to have him more in a couple of years."

Bannan thinks it will realistically take GreenEDGE "four or five years" to develop into a team that can contend for high overall placings in events such as the Tour de France.

Star Australian Stuart O'Grady is a GreenEDGE recruiting target, but his current team Leopard Trek is determined to retain him.

Bannan said it would be tough to convince O'Grady to switch teams.

"We can't resort to emotional blackmail - we have to be very professional," Bannan said.

"The thing is, Stuart is currently with the best team in the world."

O'Grady has admitted he is torn between staying at Leopard Trek and joining GreenEDGE.

Meanwhile, GreenEDGE backer Gerry Ryan also said on Tuesday that the team probably will not replace chief executive Mike McKay.

The former Olympic rowing champion dropped a bombshell late last month when he left the team, citing differences of opinion with Ryan.

"We had different philosophies," Ryan told AAP.

He said the GreenEDGE organisation could continue without bringing in someone to take McKay's position.

"The position was probably overstated," he said.

"We will keep rolling along."

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