Defending Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Simon Gerrans has arrived in Melbourne to finalise his preparations for the defence of his title. Gerrans flew in from Europe late on Tuesday night and spent Wednesday re-familiarising himself with the conditions he can expect on the Tour as Melbourne put on a blustery 30-degree day.
The 26-year-old will be part of the powerful Jayco Australia National Team, which includes Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen. "You'd be able to take this team to any race in the world and be confident of success," Gerrans told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow. The only thing is we've now got pressure on us every day. Whether it is leading Robbie out for the stage finishes or covering moves up the road. I have no doubt it's going to be an exciting race."
With two stars in the team, the question of team leadership could be a delicate one. "I reckon we'll work it out on the road but even though obviously Robbie has great form, he is more likely to go for stages than GC," said Gerrans. "We haven't had the chance to talk about it yet but I definitely want to defend my title. I guess we will be co-captains and we have an awesome team. One that gives us plenty of options."
Gerrans also talked about his season, which has been filled with highs and lows. "The year started out pretty good in Adelaide," he said. "To win Tour Down Under after winning Jayco Herald Sun Tour made me think it was going to be a pretty special year ahead, but I crashed down to earth in a big way when I smashed my shoulder soon after arriving back in France. It was a real bummer missing out on the Commonwealth Games but getting back into form and getting a start in the Tour de France was just reward for the hard work I put in."
During the Tour, the Australian was able to work for his team captain Cyril Dessel, who had the yellow jersey for a short time in the Pyrenees. Gerrans was one of the team's key pace setters in the mountains, and recalled the feeling. "I didn't realise how few were left until I went out the back myself. But I have to admit that being in the position to defend the Maillot Jaune gave the whole team a real buzz. Everyone definitely lifted it up a notch."
The Herald Sun Tour will feature 98 riders representing 14 teams and 13 countries, who will compete over seven days, seven stages and 820km. Besides defending champ Gerrans, the line up includes three Olympic gold medallists, four world champions, eight Olympians and ten former stage winners in what is one of the strongest fields in the history of the event.
More information: www.heraldsuntour.com.au