By Paul Verkuylen
Recently nominated Australian Olympic Games team member Simon Gerrans believes that the squad will be one of the favorites for the Olympic road race title. Gerrans was named in the squad for August's event in Beijing, China alongside Australian champion Matt Lloyd, ProTour champion Cadel Evans and 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady.
"We have a fantastic team," said Gerrans, who will make his Olympic debut in August. "Cadel will be up there with the best climbers in the world, while Stuey is more than capable of finishing it off if it comes to a small bunch kick.
"With just five riders in each team, the tactics will be very interesting in regard to how you use up riders," he added. "I have never ridden a one day race in such a small team, so it will be really interesting."
The 28 year-old will depend on Australian Institute of Sport data gathered at last year's test event. Gerrans wasn't one of the Australians, like Evans, to take part in last year's Good Luck Beijing course preview.
"Although I haven't seen the course, the AIS has collected a lot of data on the course," he said. "We have had meetings and talked about the different elements and what to expect."
Before the team get to the start, three of the five riders are taking part in the Tour de France, with Evans widely touted as the favorite to win. Silence-Lotto's Lloyd and Michael Rogers (Columbia) are sitting out the Tour, with Rogers still recovering from illness.
Rogers was struck down with Epstein Bar virus earlier in the year, which resulted him sit out the majority of the early season. A strong 11th overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré recently may have been the catalyst for the Australian Olympic Committee to select the three time world time trial champion.
"I won't really be thinking of the Olympics during the Tour," said Gerrans. "Once we are on the Champs Élysées that's when I can start thinking about it. It's just a matter of making sure that I don't get sick and recover well after the Tour."
The Australian team nominated for the Olympic road race consists of: Cadel Evans, Stuart O'Grady, Simon Gerrans, Matthew Lloyd and Michael Rogers. The team will be finalised on July 4 after the outcome of any appeals lodged against non-nomination are closed.