The Australian national champion has been targeting this day since the Tour’s route was announced back in October of last year. “As soon as we saw the parcours and the route for stage two we immediately saw that it was very similar to the Ardennes classics," he told the media at the team press conference in Leeds.
“A couple of days ago we rode the second half of stage two and we were pretty excited about it. I think there are plenty of opportunities for a team like ours to get a good result in that sort of finale.”
A repeat of the Ardennes classics would be perfect for Gerrans who took his second monument victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third at Amstel Gold. In fact, the Australian has tried to maintain the same preparation as he would normally take on in the build-up to an Ardennes campaign.
Gerrans says that taking yellow on day two is a two-part thing, which involves a good result on the opening day. “If I can finish in the top 10 on stage one then that will be perfect for me. I anticipate that there will be a lot of sprinters there on stage one that won’t be there on stage two,” he explained.
“On stage two, which I think really suits us, we will be going all out. If everything goes to plan then we shouldn’t be too far off the yellow jersey.”
Gerrans believes that he could potentially hold the yellow jersey for up to a week - like his teammate Michael Matthews did at the Giro d’Italia. However, there is one stumbling block will the cobbles on stage 2, which he says are a necessary evil. “I enjoy racing on the pavé like most people enjoy visiting the dentist,” he laughed, after choosing his words very carefully.
“It’s something you have to do, and then every now and then the Tour de France will throw you a pavé stage that you have to deal with. It’s going to depend a lot on what my position is on the GC. If I’m up front, then obviously I’ll be fighting all the way to the line. If not, then I think that I will just be trying to get through that stage with all my skin.”
Last season, Gerrans took the yellow jersey – becoming only the sixth Australian to do so – and held it for two days, after winning the sprint on the third stage. He would then pass it onto his teammate Daryl Impey, who is not at the race this year after testing positive for Probenecid early this season. If he is able to take the fabled jersey on day two, then Gerrans hopes he can enjoy it more the second time around.
“It’s a huge honour to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France,” he said. “Last year, I probably didn’t enjoy it and soak it up enough. The plan was to keep the yellow jersey myself and keep it within the team. I think it’s only when you finish the Tour de France and you take a step back, and realise how special it really is.”