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Jens Voigt's final pro bike – complete with 'shut up legs' mantra
What happens in Vegas… we share
Aero-vent balance, MIPS and bright shells all trending updwards
Patriotic paint, progressive features and prototype Zipp wheels
Francisco Ventoso (Carmiooro NGC) won the stage narrowly from Simon Gerrans (Team Sky)
Sky rider pleased with progress of European-based preparations
Gerrans will use Paris-Nice as part of a steady build-up to his first major goal of the season, the Ardennes Classics. But with a tough 2010 Paris-Nice route likely to play to his strengths, he is aware that consistent stage results could put him in a strong position overall.
"I'm planning to take it stage-by-stage and see where that gets me on GC," Gerrans told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. "I've never really been right up there on the overall, but that's something I'm looking at improving over the course of this year."
Gerrans, 29, has already proven his ability to lead and win multi-day races, with overall titles at the Tour Down Under (2006) and the Herald Sun Tour (2005, 2006) part of a palmarès that also includes stage wins at each of the three Grand Tours.
While those results bode well for similar success this season, he doesn't expect to perform a miracle in France next week. "There's no really big mountains [at Paris-Nice]. But I'm not planning to shock anyone with a huge result this week," he said.
Gerrans' 2010 season got off to a strong start at last week's Ruta del Sol. The trip to Spain yielded two top-three stage placings and served as affirmation of a new approach to his pre-season preparations.
"I think I'm on track. I've done lots of training and had some good solid preparation blocks. Last week [at Ruta del Sol] I felt that I was really improving as the five days went on," he said. "The goal was to be at around 90 per cent by this stage of the season and I'm pretty close to that now."
In contrast to previous seasons, Gerrans trained much of the early part of the year in Europe, rather than his native Australia. With his previous two participations in Paris-Nice (2007, 2008) cut short by illness, he is hopeful the extra period of acclimatization will prevent any delays to his season.
"My preparation has been different. It's been a slightly slower build-up and I've already been in Europe for a couple of months. It's probably the first time I've been really well adjusted to the European weather."
While Gerrans will be given the opportunity to test his general classification ability at races including Paris-Nice, Critérium International and Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), he remains firmly focussed on hitting peak form for the Walloon Classics. After top-ten finishes at Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, he will be one of Sky's top hopes next month.
"The Ardennes [Classics] will be my first real goal of the season. It's part of the plan to build that last ten percent over the next six weeks in the lead-up to those races."