Orica-GreenEdge rider headlines national team
Two-time winner of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Gerrans will lead the Australian national team when the four-day race begins on 3 January 2013. The race will begin with a prologue in the afternoon following the completion of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.
Gerrans will not be attending the Mitchelton criterium series and instead will use the time for additional training. The Sun Tour means a lot to Gerrans who won the title in 2005 and 2006 during his tenure with Ag2r Prévoyance. It's a return that this year's Tour Down Under champion believes will put him in the best condition ahead of his title defence at the Australian Road National Championships.
"That would be an ideal way to start the 2013 season," he told Cyclingnews. "The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is a race I hold pretty close to my heart. It's a race I grew up watching and I won it in my last two attempts.
"I'm pretty motivated to go back there next year and start my season well and get another win."
Gerrans has said he will split his time between Melbourne and Mansfield ahead of the Sun Tour before focussing on his defence of his national title. He added that the increased distance of the Australian National Road Championships will help him secure a second successive win.
"I think it [the nationals course] suits me quite well, especially now that I'll have the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in my legs a week before it. It should put me in really good condition before the national championships and Tour Down Under."
Gerrans will start the road championships in Ballarat as the number-one favourite after he took out the title this year. He followed on from his win in Ballarat and went to the Tour Down Under where he captured his second overall title. However, the Ardennes Classics are one of the season's biggest targets.
The 32-year-old was expected to be Orica-GreenEdge's hope for April's Ardennes Classics however, Gerrans struggled to improve on his past performances. A pair of top-20 finishes at Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2012 is nothing to be scoffed at but with numerous top ten's achieved in the past, Gerrans is looking to do more in 2013.
Changes to the way he builds for the Ardennes of Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will likely impact his chance to take another win Milan-San Remo, which is held in March. Gerrans won't have the same form as he did this year when he bested Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) for the historic victory, however April remains a big focus in 2013.
"I'm learning new things every year so I can try and good in January and in April [for the Ardennes Classics]. I may not be so good in March next year, like I was this season but hopefully by having a bit of a quieter February and March I should be good in April."