After top-ten finishes at Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, Simon Gerrans (Sky) is about to embark on his first major goals of the season in the Ardennes Classics.
The Australian was signed from Cervélo last year after a successful season that included stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, but it's the Ardennes races that perhaps suit him best. With Bradley Wiggins and Thomas Löfkvist, Gerrans will spearhead the British team's challenge.
"So far my season has gone fairly well," Gerrans told Cyclingnews. "My big goal is to perform in the Ardennes and then the Tour and then the worlds in Australia. Unfortunately I've not got any wins yet but I was happy with my performance in Paris-Nice. The next goal is these next few races and I feel like I'm going well."
Gerrans came out of Paris-Nice with a top-ten placing on one stage and 15th overall but used the race as training for the Ardennes. A bad crash in Critérium International in March affected his training and although no bones were broken the scars were still fresh on the start line of Brabantse Pijl today.
"It's taken me a couple of weeks to come good. I got better during Pais Vasco. I'm getting there slowly but surely. I've not had any results or sensations up until now but hopefully I've turned the corner pretty quickly," he explained.
Despite being a protected rider for the upcoming races, Gerrans is relaxed, unwilling to let any pressure affect him. "There's no pressure from the team. Most of the pressure comes from me but not from anywhere else. We've got Brad Wiggins, Thomas Löfkvist and they're more than capable of performing in the Ardennes, so we'll have a few cards to play, hopefully."
Gerrans finished seventh in Amstel Gold Race last year and believes that the route suits him better than both Fleche and Liège but he isn't willing to put all his eggs in one basket.
"I think Amstel suits me more than the other couple because of the punchy climbs and the style of racing. It's the first one, too, so if that doesn't come off I've always got another couple of chances."