By Gregor Brown
Australia's Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) will have to revise his 2015 schedule after breaking his left collarbone in a mountain bike training crash yesterday. He was due to defend his Tour Down Under title on home soil in January, but will now focus the Ardennes Classics.
"Unfortunately it doesn't matter how well the recovery goes from here, I don't think I am going to be in any condition to be racing at a high level in January," Gerrans said.
"With that in mind I think it is better to take my time, make sure the recovery goes well and get all the rehab done so I don't have any ongoing issues."
Gerrans underwent surgery on Monday near his home in Melbourne, Australia, and will need 10 days off his bike to recover. Without issues, he should be training at full speed in the weeks after and back on schedule for the Ardennes Classics in April. The 34-year-old placed third in the Amstel Gold Race and won Liège-Bastogne-Liège this spring.
The 2014 season was kind to Gerrans despite the training crash. He won a stage and the overall victory in the Tour Down Under, Liège and both Canadian one-day races - the GP Quebec and GP Montreal - at the tail end of 2014. He followed Canada with a second place in the World Championship road race behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
After the successful run, Cycling Australia awarded Gerrans the Sir Hubert Opperman trophy as Australian Cyclist of the Year in November.
Gerrans was mountain biking near Mansfield, Victoria, to prepare for the new season.
"About half way through my mountain bike ride, I became a little unstuck, came down and landed pretty heavily on my left side. I knew straight away as I hit the ground that I had broken my left collarbone," Gerrans continued.
"From there, I had a little bit of a walk to get down to a point where I was picked up by a four-wheel drive and went directly to Mansfield hospital to get cleaned up and have the x-ray to confirm."
The incident comes four weeks ahead of the Tour Down Under, which Gerrans won ahead of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) in 2014.
"Simon is one of our key riders and the Australian summer, particularly the national championships and Tour Down Under, were a real goal for him again," Orica Sports Director Matt White said.
"As always he had worked very hard to get himself into peak condition and that is disappointing for him to have it go somewhat to waste."
"It's a big blow not to be able to line up and defend my titles," Gerrans added. "They are races that I really enjoy and I know how important they are to the team."
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