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„I'm not going there expecting to set the world on fire but once I get a few race days under my belt I shouldn't be too far off the mark. I don't have huge expectations for Strade but I hope not to be too off the pace."

Photo: Sirotti






02.03.2015 @ 13:19 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Simon Gerrans' season suffered an early blow, as a collarbone fracture prevented him from following his usual schedule with Australian nationals and Tour Down Under marked as his first appearances. Even though fully recovered, the Orica-GreenEDGE fast finisher admits that he is unable to gauge his current condition without a possibility to measure himself against fellow professionals and remains unsure how that exceptionally long winter break affected his preparations. We are absolutely certain, however, that the 34-year old Australian is one of those few riders incredibly effective when it comes to hitting the target, and the Ardennes classics are going to be the first one in 2015.

Having a long winter break is very unusual for Gerrans, known for entering the early-season Australian races in a decent form. The 34-year old Orica-GreenEDGE rider confessed that additional months out of racing, especially after such a successful year like he had in 2014, have made him more hungry then ever to return to competition. 

“I’m always excited to get racing underway, but this year more so than ever,” Gerrans wrote on his official website. „I strung together a big season last year. It wasn’t so many race days but the racing I did was really intense. There was a lot of pressure every time I lined up to the point where I was really looking forward to finish racing at the end of year. Now that I’ve gone such a long period without racing, I’m really looking forward to getting back into it again and getting this season started.”

As a part of his unexpectedly long pre-season preparations, last year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner took part in the two-week long training camp organized by Orica-GreenEDGE in South Africa. Gerrans revealed that an idea to organize the event in that location was inspired entirely by Daryl Impey, who also took responsibility for organizing highly entertaining leisure time for his team-mates.

The 34-year old Australian acknowledged many advantages of training in South Africa, known also for some fairly succesfull riders from Team Sky camp. 

„There’s actually a lot of reasons the location made sense. The weather is great at this time of year. Although it’s a long flight, South Africa is on a similar time zone as Europe, so we could travel there and back without jet lag,” he explained. 

„Plus, we were at altitude. There aren’t many places in Europe that we can train this time of year at altitude in good weather. With all those things lining up, the team decided to give South Africa a try.”

Thanks to his recent African experience he was also able to report that he was fully recovered and ready to kick his 2015 season off.

„My time at camp confirmed that I’m fully recovered from my shoulder injury. It’s not something that I even think about anymore. In the nearly three months since my crash, I’ve done a two week training camp each month. It’s been heaps of work, but I’m proud to report that I’m back in good health, I’m fit from all the training, and I’m ready to race.”

Saying that, Gerrans revealed that his 11th season as professional rider will be kicked-off with Strade Bianche – the race he has never ridden before, usually opting for the Paris-Nice, offering an opportunity to race against many of his key rivals for Ardennes classics. 

„Having looked at the results over the past few years, the riders that feature in the finale are the same riders that I’m competitive with at other races throughout the season,” Gerrans confirmed. „The course profile suits me. I’m not sure how much my inexperience of the race will come into play, but my preparation for the last period has gone really well.”

He pointed out, though, that no fireworks should be expected from him in the Italian one-day event, even if its finale should suit him down to the ground, as clocking first race kilometers and measuring his disposition against currently strongest riders would be his only objective.

„I might not have experience racing on the dirt or racing the Strade Bianche course, but I’m looking forward to testing my legs. I don’t have huge expectations for a result, but I’m excited to race all the same.”

„For my first few races, I may be at a bit of a disadvantage due to a lack of race fitness. I will be lining up against guys that have done a few races already this year, and they’ll obviously have more top-end fitness than myself.” 

„I'm not going there expecting to set the world on fire but once I get a few race days under my belt I shouldn't be too far off the mark. I don't have huge expectations for Strade but I hope not to be too off the pace," the 34-year old Australian once again confirmed while talking with Cyclingnews.

The Orica-GreenEDGE fast finisher also revealed that a novel schedule was not only enforced by his collarbone injury, but health issues he usually struggled with in early spring. Instead of the Paris-Nice, Gerrans with appear in another Italian event, GP Nobili, and continue with Volta Catalunya.

„I race again in Italy the weekend after Strade Bianche at GP Nobili, and then my first stage race will be at the end of the month with Volta Catalunya. The reason I decided again my usual Paris-Nice programme is because throughout my entire career, I’ve struggled getting through the early Spring in good health,” he wrote on his website. „The programme change was made even before I was injured in December.”

Asked about his first real objectives for the 2015 season, Gerrans obviously did not hesitate long before pointing out to Ardennes classics, where he will face a difficult task of defending his Liege-Bastogne-Liege title from last year.

"I really hope that with the enforced rest and a more gradual build up will work in my favour when it comes to the Classics. I'm going into unchartered territory having had such a big pre-season but I'm really looking ahead to what it will mean for the Classics. It's hard for me to compare where I am though in comparison to previous years," he told Cyclingnews.

"I won't have enough in my legs to be in great shape for San Remo and if I was trying to be in condition to win that race it wouldn't really set me up for the Ardennes. It would be too far away for me to try and carry that form all the way until April. It's just tricky timing wise. Back in 2012 I carried my January form into San Remo but then I felt like I was below par in April. Last year I got it right, having that rest and then coming up again for the Ardennes. It's tricky at this time of year because you have such an array of races that are spread out."




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