Simon Gerrans, with a win in Milan-San Remo and several Ardennes top tens, ranks as a favourite in the Amstel Gold Race tomorrow.
He told Cycling Weekly earlier this year, “If I stick to my guns, soon enough I’ll be standing on top of the podium in one of” the Ardennes Classics.
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The Australian kick started GreenEdge’s debut season by winning the Tour Down Under overall. He is also responsible for the team’s biggest one-day win, Milan-San Remo.
He and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) followed an attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the Poggio climb. The trio raced towards San Remo, where Gerrans used his smarts to win.
With the Ardennes Classics a focus, this year he’s racing only Amstel and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, San Remo was a surprise.
“I worked quiet hard in the Australian summer to prepare because I thought it would be important for GreenEdge finding a sponsor,” he explained. “Since the Down Under win, I backed off a bit to prepare for the Ardennes. So, it’s quite a surprise to win Milan-San Remo. It means a lot to win a classic like this, though.”
He said it’s still hard to believe that he won the Italian race. His focus now is in Limberg and Liège. A third place in Amstel Gold racing for Sky last year re-confirmed his Ardennes abilities after a difficult 2010.
“I had a tough year,” he said. “I tried to change my approach. I focused on Paris-Nice, which probably took away what I was good at for the Ardennes, those little, explosive climbs. The punchy climbs, the sprinting. Then I had a heavy crash at Critérium International and that really knocked me out.
“I was in really great shape and close in Amstel last year. In Liège, it tactically didn’t unfold well.”
Gerrans previewed the final 70 kilometres of Amstel’s parcours yesterday with his team-mates. He will leads the team with Michael Albasini, Simon Clarke, Daryl Impey, Jens Keukeleire, Jens Mouris, Wesley Sulzberger and Christian Meier.
Sky races with Davide Appollonio, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sergio Luis Henao, Thomas Löfkvist, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Salvatore Puccio and Xabier Zandio.