Simon Gerrans aiming for Ardennes Classics after Down Under stage win

Ryan and Gerrans, Tour Down Under 2013, stage five

Milan-San Remo champion Simon Gerrans plans to be at the first monument of the 2013 season but his major early season objective is success at the Ardennes Classics.

Illness has affected Gerrans's Tour Down Under title defence this week but the Australian was in-form today winning the queen stage in what was a display of power and superior race nous.

The former national road champion was modest about his chances before the start of the 151km fifth stage but apparently did not need to be, improving on last year's second place to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on the same circuit.

"I'd love to go one place better than last year ideally," Gerrans told Cycling Weekly before the race start.

"I think I've got the form but I've just had some health problems this week with my asthma, which has kind of prevented me from performing at my best.

"It's been troubling me just when I have to go full gas and that's exactly where I had to be to get over the Corkscrew (climb) in the front," he continued referring to the day he lost more than two minutes to Geraint Thomas (Sky) and dropped out of overall contention.

"As soon as I got to the climb I started to have some breathing problems and lost contact.

"I didn't think I was far off from where I was last year actually," he added of his form.

"I did very similar preparation but it's just been a little health issue that has stopped me from performing at my best."

The Tour Down Under is, next to the Tour de France, maybe the most important stage race of the season for the Australian-based Orica-GreenEdge team and Gerrans's victory today marked its first ever stage win at the event.

Gerrans is one of only a few Australians who have achieved a podium finish at the Ardennes Classics, which appear to be a bigger priority than San Remo this season.

"I plan to go there but I hope to be in better shape a little bit further down the track this year, not so much in March," he said.

Orica-GreenEdge has another option for Milan-San Remo in 2011 winner Matt Goss who, although yet to win a stage in Adelaide, is in the same, if not better, early season shape to the year he claimed the Italy race.

Related links

Tour Down Under 2013: Coverage index

Twitter: @SophieSmith86

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