Simon Gerrans is hopeful of becoming the fourth Australian in as many years to medal in the men’s road world championships.
Gerrans has planned since the beginning of the year to be in shape for tomorrow’s 267km title in Limburg, Netherlands and will have the support of a full quota nine-man national squad.
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The 32 year old is in form after racing both the Tour de France and London Olympic Games road race in what has been one of his most successful seasons in recent times. Gerrans won the Tour Down Under in January with the fledgling Orica-GreenEdge team as well as Milan-San Remo in March.
“This whole period of the year has been a target and I knew this year’s worlds course suited me quite well so it was worth putting a big emphasis on being in good shape here too,” Gerrans told Cycling Weekly yesterday.
“I had a good first part of the year and I put a big emphasis on going well for the early season races but then I backed things right off after the Ardennes Classics and had a good rest. Since the middle of May I have been building up towards this part of the year. I wasn’t in my peak condition probably for the Tour de France but that was all part of the process of being really good following the Tour de France. It’s been all part of the plan and it seems to be coming together quite well.”
The Australia team yesterday rode the 16.1km circuit, which the peloton will lap 10 times after a 100km run from the start in Maastricht Sunday. Gerrans is familiar with the Cauberg climb, which along with the Bemelerberg features on the circuit, having ridden it as part of the Amstel Gold Race in which he finished third in 2011. The men’s race includes a total of nine climbs including seven on the run in to the circuit.
Gerrans enters the titles on the back of the GP de Quebec and the GP de Montreal where he was first and fourth, respectively.
“Knowing that I’ve been competitive for the past six weeks, and on top of that the fact I’ve been able to win at the highest level this year, it gives me confidence to show that on my day I can mix it up and beat the best guys,” Gerrans said.
“I’ve had races not every weekend but most weekends since the Olympics. The Olympics is probably the only race I’ve really been disappointed in since the Tour de France. I really missed my opportunity there to go with the winning move on the last lap of the circuit at Box Hill.
“I was a little bit disappointed in that but really since then I’ve been up there fighting for victory in each race I’ve been at. It goes to show I probably didn’t come out of the Tour de France immediately as good as what I hoped but since then it’s been going really well.”
Australia’s line-up boasts a mix of experience and youth with Allan Davis, Heinrich Haussler, David Tanner, Wesley Sulzberger, Simon Clarke, Michael Matthews, Richie Porte as well as Adam Hansen, who has completed all three Grand Tours this season.
There’s 1.7km from the top of the Cauberg to the finish of tomorrow’s title race that Gerrans has a clear picture of.
“It will be a very small group finish especially going up the Cauberg there inside 2km to go,” he said.
“I think what’s left of the peloton will be blown to pieces there and I expect very small groups coming to the finish line together. The last couple of laps are very important but specifically the last lap.”
Compatriot Cadel Evans won the rainbow bands in 2009 and an Australian has finished on the podium of the men’s road race world titles since. Davis won bronze in 2010 and sprinter Matt Goss was the silver medalist behind Mark Cavendish in Copenhagen last season.