Still a long way to Paris, says Australian national champion
By stage 11 of last year's Tour de France, Simon Gerrans had won an individual stage, the team time trial with his Orica-GreenEdge team and worn the yellow jersey for two days. The 2014 Tour de France however isn't quiet going to plan for the Australian who finished fifth behind Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) in Oyonnax.
Gerrans, who resigned with GreenEdge for a further three years, posted his second fifth place of the race on a stage which suited his characterises, and with his team working for the Australian champion, it a third career stage win was looking likely.
"When that little break slipped off the front with three riders, that was the perfect scenario for us as it was a group that we thought we could control and bring back for the final," Gerrans explained to reporters at his team bus. "Obviously it came back pretty quickly and then the last 50km were raced really aggressively and Gallopin slipped away on that last little rise and we didn't see him again so we were really racing for second then."
Rather than dwell on a missed opportunity, Gerrans was already looking ahead to stage 12 to Saint-Étienne and the chance for victory there.
"Obviously tomorrow's stage is quite similar to today, it's sort of a transitional stage with a few climbs there but nothing super hard," he said. "It could go either way – we could have a break go all the way to the finish or it could be a select group like today. We'll sit down and see how everyone got on today and assess things before tomorrow.
While Gerrans was caught up the crash caused by Mark Cavendish on stage 1 of the Tour and was bandaged for several stages afterwards, he declined any suggestion that his injuries were holding him back.
"It's obviously not ideal to have such a heavily fall at the start of the Tour de France," he explained. "I am not feeling the effects of it too much these days. I'm still a little bit stiff and sore from the crash but it's probably just taking that little bit of an edge off my form, but I am not using that as an excuse for not winning stages.
"We are racing at the very highest level here and to win, everything's got to go right and you have to be at 100% - well I do anyway - so to miss that little bit is probably holding me back ever so slightly which is a little bit frustrating as I felt that I came into the race in great shape, but I am showing that I am there-or-thereabouts and it's a long way to Paris yet."
When asked if GreenEdge and the peloton were racing against Peter Sagan, Gerrans responded. "I don't think anyone is racing against Sagan, today we had similar tactics. Both us and Cannondale put riders on the front to control the break of three riders and obviously we cooperated to try to bring it back for the final. So we were racing with very similar tactics today and don't think anyone was conspiring against each other."
Tour débutantes Christian Meier and Luke Durbridge were seen on the front of the bunch controlling the race in the latter-half of the stage and Gerrans was quick to praise the efforts of his teammates.
"The whole team actually, Christian Meier did a heck of a lot of work throughout the stage," he added "Simon Yates was really good in the final. We got full commitment from the guys so I can't thanks them enough for the help during the stage."
With the team's objective at the Tour to win stages, Gerrans was adamant that the team was still in a good position to achieve its goals despite its misfortune so far which included losing Matt Hayman to the time limit on stage 10.
"Like I keep saying, I think we are doing everything right, we are just missing a little bit of luck at this stage."
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