Simon Gerrans interview: Psyched to fight for Australian road race title
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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Simon Gerrans interview: Psyched to fight for Australian road race title

by Shane Stokes at 7:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, National Championships
 
Punchy GreenEdge rider ready to step up from 2011 bronze medal position

Simon GerransThird in last year’s Australian championships behind Jack Bobridge and Matt Goss, today’s running of the 2012 elite road race is a strong opportunity for Simon Gerrans to claim the distinctive white, gold and green jersey.

The 31 year old Melbourne rider has trained well in the lead up to the race and while he admits a little uncertainty about how he will shape up to the other riders, he is focussed and ready to scrap it out in the 163.2 kilometre Buninyong event.

Gerrans believes the course suits him well and knows that with fifteen other GreenEdge riders in the race, the odds are in the favour of the new UCI ProTeam.

“Things have been going pretty well in training,” he told VeloNation this week. “I’ve been working hard over the past month or so. I feel like I am in pretty good shape, although it is hard to gauge at this time of year as I have been doing quite a bit of training by myself.

“It is always a bit of an unknown at the beginning of the season to know how I am going to be going compared to the other guys. But in myself I feel like I am going pretty well. I am pretty happy with my condition and I am looking forward to racing to test that out.”

Gerrans had an opportunity to gauge his form, with the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic offering four races where he could have competed against some of those he will clash with today. He could also have used those events to sharpen up. He chose not to, though, with a club criterium late in December being his sole competitive outing thus far since he headed back to Australia.

For him, his path to the nationals is his preferred option. Today’s race is important, of course, but so too what is coming up. “I think there’s a couple of different ways to approach it,” he explained. “For a sprinter, who is preparing not only for the national championships but also for the Tour Down Under, the Jayco Bay crits aren’t a bad option.

“But I think if you want to also go for the overall or perhaps even the win in the Tour Down Under, then doing the Jayco Bay races would mean that you would miss out on a week of training in the hills.

“Those races are great, they are done at a high intensity and are very good for your explosiveness in sprinting and that sort of thing, but the national championships is won and lost on the climbs.”

Lumpy course suits him well:


Gerrans is one of the few riders to win stages in all three Grand Tours. His Giro, Tour and Vuelta successes were all based on his ability as an explosive rider who fares well on certain types of climbs, and so too his 2009 win in the GP Ouest France plus his third place in last year’s Amstel Gold Race.

Ditto for his victory in the Tour of Denmark. The then-Sky Procycling rider was second to Jakob Fuglsang on the short, sharp summit finish at Vejle, with the result ensuring he took over a race leader’s jersey that he would defend until the end of the 2.HC event.

Today’s roads will enable him to draw on that same ability as a puncheur. The ten kilometre circuit begins with a 3.1 kilometre climb which hits 7.8 percent in places. It’s nothing near as steep as the likes of the Mur de Huy in Flèche Wallonne, but over the course of sixteen laps, Mount Buninyong road will certainly take its toll.

“It is a course I really like…a really decisive one,” Gerrans confirmed, thinking back to last year’s race. “It is a tough little circuit. It is only about ten kilometres a lap with two to three kilometre climb in there, so you are basically going up and down the entire day.

“I’d call it a pretty truthful course – if you have got good legs, you can generally make a real impact on the race. That said, you can have great legs but not be the Australian champion. I was in great condition there last year and was probably one of the big favourites going into the race, but the race kind of slipped away from me a little bit. Jack [Bobridge] went up the front and we didn’t see him again. So while it is a truthful course, it is also a tough race to read.”

Fortunately for him, the GreenEdge squad has a strong lineup which can help ensure that tactics play out the way the team wants. Officially speaking, the nationals are supposed to be ridden as an individual event, but the truth is that team allegiances can and do play a big part in the decisions made.

If Gerrans is feeling good and needs others to ride for him, it’s fair to assume that he’ll be supported. It’s worth considering though that another strong rider on the GreenEdge team could also get the backing, and so the road will help determine how the race plays out.

He makes it clear that there are likely to be just a few protected riders on the team, though, with those being given priority over the others. “It definitely won’t be everyone for himself, that would be a ridiculous way. We will sit down in a big team meeting beforehand and talk about how we can win it.

“Of course there’s other dangerous guys. The Rabobank riders are going to have a strong group. I think Michael Matthews will be one to watch – he could go very well on that circuit. The Genesys Wealth Advisors guys have been doing well, and the Sky guys could be strong… Rogers and Porte.”

The feeling though is that his team will do everything it can to ensure that one of its riders ends the day with a new jersey on his back and a gold medal around his neck. The squad will throw everything it has at that goal, and Gerrans feels secure in that thought.

“I think the fact that so many are on the GreenEdge team could make a difference,” he said. “The top three place-getters from last season are all on the team this year, so that’s great to have.

“We’ll do what we can to take the victory. I’m looking forward to it; the course should suit me so I hope it goes well.”
 

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