Simon Gerrans will make his European debut at the GP Industria on Sunday and is bringing confidence from a strong start to the season

Simon Gerrans spent almost as much time off the bike as he did on it in 2015, but the Australian is keen to put his injury-hit season behind him and return to the top of his game.

The Orica-GreenEdge rider broke six bones in seven different crashes last year and saw his Ardennes Classics campaign fizzle out due to lack of preparation.

Having broken his collarbone in a mountain biking crash in the offseason, he returned at Strade Bianche in March and promptly broke his elbow, but Gerrans won’t be returning to the Tuscan race this year.

“It is a race with a little bit more risk than we normally do. As far as a preparation race goes there’s probably no need to do that,” he told the Herald Sun.

“Obviously [the broken elbow] played in the back of my mind a bit and, to be honest with you, the team didn’t even put it to me. They just said: ‘It’s better off you doing these other couple’.”

A crash at the Giro d’Italia forced him to withdraw before stage 13, having worn the first leader’s jersey, and then he was one of the many riders forced to retire from the Tour de France after a massive crash on stage three.

He put those disappointments behind him, though, with a strong set of performances in the Australian summer, winning two stages and the overall at the Tour Down Under – his third title in his home race.

“It was a thrill to have the success I had in January but it was also a bit of a relief,” Gerrans said.

“After going through such a dry spell of results in 2015 due to all the setbacks I had, it just confirmed to me and probably a few guys in the team that I am still capable of winning on the big stage.

“It hopefully put a line through all that bad luck and allowed me to start 2016 fresh and ready to go.”

Gerrans will start his European campaign at the GP Industria on Sunday and is due to ride the Tour of the Basque Country before the Ardennes.