Bardonecchia: The Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team may not have a rider vying for overall victory or a top place in the Giro d'Italia that ends on Sunday.
However, as the 3405-kilometre race enters its third and final week, pressure is building on the team to finish the Giro with something to show for their effort.
Winning a stage is imperative for several reasons:
1. It will allow the team to tick off the Giro as successful.
2. It will instil confidence and momentum for the Tour de France, which starts on June 29.
3. Last, but not least – and one assumes Orica-GreenEDGE understands this – it will reassure their sponsors and fans, many of whom have not only invested time in supporting the team, but hard-earned money on cycling tours and official team merchandise.
But understanding that many fans expect more from Orica-GreenEDGE at the Giro, it's not for want of trying that by the end of 14 of 21 stages on Saturday, the team were still without a stage win.
Top sprinter Matt Goss, who won a stage last year, has been fighting a virus for much of the rain-drenched race and has two real chances left – Wednesday's 214km 17th stage from Caravaggio to Vicenza and Sunday's final stage, 197km from Riese Pio X to Brescia.
Meanwhile, their Dutch climber, Pieter Weening, who began the Giro in strong form and has been at the pointy end of the race on several occasions, has not been spared misfortune either.
On Saturday's 14th stage, from Cervere to Bardonecchia that was re-routed to exclude the climb up Sestriere due to wet and snowy conditions, he got into the first main break as had been planned, but crashed.
The team's Giro has neither been without cause for cheer.
Their Giro rookie, Australian Luke Durbridge, placed sixth in last Sunday's stage-eight time trial in a superb performance.
Nor has Orica-GreenEDGE's season been a failure – far from it, with 16 wins (six in World Tour races) as against an impressive 33 for their entire season last year on debut as a first-division ProTeam squad. Add to that their seven second places this year and 14 thirds.
Those who may ask why Orica-GreenEDGE are not winning stages in the Giro, the second biggest stage race on the calendar, should also consider that in a race with 23 nine-man teams numbering 207 starters, winning one of 21 stages is not as easy as some may think.
After 14 stages, nine teams had won stages – Omega Pharma-QuickStep (four by Mark Cavendish), Sky (team time trial, Rigoberto Uran), Katusha (two – Luca Paolini, Maxim Belkov), Bardiani Valvole (one – Enrico Battaglin), Argos-Shimano (one – John Degenkolb), Lotto-Belisol (one – Adam Hansen), Movistar (one – Alex Dowsett), Garmin-Sharp (one – Ramunas Navardauskas) and Vini Fantini (one – Mauro Santambrogio). Not including the four teams that have had the overall race leader's pink jersey – Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Cavendish), Sky (Salvatore Puccio), Movistar (Benat Intxausti) and Astana (Vincenzo Nibali) – or leadership jerseys in other classifications such as best young rider, that left 14 teams under growing pressure to win something before the Giro wheels to a stop.
It really reinforces Orica-GreenEDGE's need to compete at the grand tours with a rider capable of a top overall position, a point the team has recognised.
Having that type of rider will ensure Orica-GreenEDGE have a constant presence and impact on the race.
For their fans, sponsors and the media, it will also help strengthen support and interest in the team – and ultimately, its future in the peloton.
Monday is a rest day for the Giro d'Italia. Watch stage 16 – 238km from Valloire to Ivrea – live on Eurosport, channel 511 on Foxtel, from 10.15pm on Tuesday.
Rupert Guinness is covering the Giro d'Italia as a guest of Eurosport.