The first and – at least as of yet – only rider to ever win both the GP Québec and GP Montréal in the same year is in Canada again this season, but pre-race buzz around Simon Gerrans was decidedly quieter this year than in the past. As the 37-year-old Australian told Cyclingnews before the start in Quebec City, "as much as I've put a big emphasis on this, it's going to be more for a support role."
Teamamate Michael Albasini was Orica-Scott's best finisher in the GP Québec after a late move by Roman Kreuziger was reeled in.
Left off the Orica-Scott Tour de France squad and noting that his preparation didn't have him in quite the same shape as in past years of starring in the late-season contests, Gerrans didn't bring the same expectations for his own result to Canada. Now a year and a half removed from his last pro victory, Gerrans has spent plenty of time as a team leader in hilly Classics across the calendar, but he says he has no qualms putting in work for his Orica-Scott squadmates.
"I've spent more of my career in a support role than as a leader, so it's not something that I'm new to. It's a role that I quite enjoy doing," Gerrrans said. "It's a role that I take the opportunity to do to return the favour to any of my teammates that have helped me out."
That willingness to acknowledge the realities of his current form extends beyond his approach to races on the WorldTour calendar.
When the Australian national squad for the Bergen World Championships was announced this week with Sunweb's Michael Matthews as team leader, Gerrans' name was not among the selection, making 2017 the second straight year Australia will leave Gerrans out of their Worlds line-up.
While last year's pan-flat Doha circuit was far less Gerrans' style, though, the hilly Bergen parcours would seem to suit his characteristics. However, the former Worlds road race runner-up says he did not push to be named to the team, knowing there might be better options this time around.
"I didn't put my hand up for selection actually. I just thought with the racing program I had for the back half of the year, it wasn't something that I thought would put me in a really good position for Bergen," he said. "So I didn't put my hand up this year, and I let the selectors sort of give some other guys a chance."
Gerrans says he's reached a point in his career where he doesn't feel the need to go to the Worlds for going's sake alone.
"I've been around long enough, I'm not going to turn up there just for a track suit. As much as I love representing Australia and try to do my best for a result and try for my best performances when I'm representing Australia, when I know that I'm not going to be in suitable condition to be super competitive I thought it's not worth going through that late in the year."
The two-time Monument winner remains unsigned for the 2018 season, making him one of the best-known riders still officially on the market. When it comes to what's next for Gerrans, though, he's keeping his cards close to his chest for at least a little while longer.
For now, Gerrans would only speak to the immediate future, simply confirming – with a smile – that he'd be playing the support role "at least for the next couple of races anyway."
Whether he'll be leaving Orica-Scott or staying put, aiming to return to race-winning form or settling into the veteran road captain role or perhaps even hanging up the wheels sometime soon remains to be seen.
He's not putting an exact timetable on going public with his plans for 2018 either, but did say the decision could come in the near future.
"It's still up in the air a bit," Gerrans said. "I've got some really exciting possibilities and hopefully we can announce something soon."