Gerrans sees upside to missing Tour Down Under

By Shane Stokes Simon Gerrans is one notable absentee from the Tour Down Under , the 28-year-old...

By Shane Stokes

Simon Gerrans is one notable absentee from the Tour Down Under, the 28-year-old being one of the best-known Australian professionals and a winner of the event in 2006.

The race is often part of his programme but his move to the new Cervélo team sees a change in plan for 2008. The entire squad is together for their big pre-season training camp near Faro in Portugal, and today took in a long ride on the road bike plus a later session on their time trial machines.

Gerrans won a stage of the Tour de France last July and has moved to a new stage in his career. He's hoping that he'll be a contender in the Spring Classics, particularly Amstel Gold, and so views his new season layout as an opportunity, a plus rather than a minus.

"When I heard about the crowds, I guess there is a little bit of regret not being there at the Tour Down Under," he told Cyclingnews on Saturday. "But you have to try something new and I'm hoping that doing a different programme will really help me hit good form for the Classics. If the team does it next year, for sure I'll be there, but I'm happy to do things a different way this season and see how it works out.

"I want to give the Classics a good shot this year. I think the one that should suit me best is probably Amstel Gold. I was twelfth there last year and wasn't very far off making it into the front group."

His July victory was a big plus, but so too another factor. "Obviously winning a stage of the Tour was a big highlight for me, and the Olympic Games was a huge buzz," he said. "But what was a huge highlight for me last year was that every time I set an objective, I came up in really good shape for it. I think that is from experience and learning from the past. That was a real plus for me.

"In the Tour, the plan was all about helping out Thor in the first part of the race, and trying to get him up for a stage. Then come the transition stages and mountain stages, the goal then was to try to get into a breakaway and try to win one. That was the plan going in, but plans don't always work out. So it was great it happened."

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