Gerrans: Tour de France opening stages are a bit of an unknown

Australian says puncheurs will be targeting stage 2

Simon Gerrans (Orica-BikeExchange) comes into the Tour de France full of optimism having recovered well after the Criterium du Dauphine and he will once again target stage wins in the race. The 36-year-old, who has an option of a third year as yet unsigned has won two individual stages in the Tour, in 2008 and 2013.

“I’m feeling good, the last part of my preparations have gone really well. I’ve had a good blow at the Dauphiné and the training has gone well since then. It’s always a bit of an unknown coming into these first stages, but everything’s been going bang on track,” he told the media at the team’s pre-Tour press conference.

Although stage 1 is suited to the bunch sprinters, the follow day could see a shake up in the overall standings with a climb towards the finish line. Many have predicted that the incline will leave less than 30 riders for the sprint, a number that suits Gerrans should the majority of the pure sprinters lose contact with the peloton.

“I like the look of it actually, the final climb up to the finish is quite tricky, the gradient varies quite a lot. You go from wide road to narrow road so a big part of it is going to be about positioning. But there are several guys that are really going to target Stage 2.”

One of those riders is Gerrans’ teammate Michael Matthews. Both riders have ridden reconnaissance over stage 2 but both have kept their cards close to their chest when asked if the team would have a single leader for the stage. A win on stage 2 though would almost certainly result in a leadership change in the race – assuming the opening day is a bunch sprint.

“I’m not fussy; I’d take either! It’s obviously pretty special to wear the yellow jersey, but stage wins don’t come around every day either and I think the way that this year’s Tour de France looks to be – there are a lot of sprint stages and there are a lot of big mountain days, so we’re going to see a select group of guys dominate the race throughout and to get a stage win would be great.”

Gerrans has also pinpointed stages further down the road, however with more mountain stages in the mix, he has limited options.

“I think it’s either stage 5 or 6 looks like a bit of a slick run in to the finish as well which is good for the characteristics of the team that we have and then after that we hit the big mountains and then it’ll be a matter of going for breakaway opportunities.”

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