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Simon Gerrans with his gold pan prize for winning
Australian to lead Orica in first WorldTour race of the season
Excellent teamwork, coupled with a strong finish from Simon Gerrans, saw the Orica-GreenEdge leader come home with his second national road title on Sunday. Gerrans beat Cadel Evans and Richie Porte in the finale to pull on the green and gold jersey.
"It's such a huge honour to have this green-and-gold jersey for the next 12 months,” Gerrans said.
"Australia is such a dominant force on the world stage, so the Australian champion is a jersey that's well-respected overseas. I'm just so happy to finish off some fantastic work by all my Orica-GreenEdge teammates."
Gerrans' team came into the race with a strong line up with Luke Durbridge, Cameron Meyer and were looking to win their third straight national men’s road title. However with Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and a rejuvenated Drapac team on the start line, a third crown was anything but a certainly.
"When you look at the depth of the field today and you look at these two guys standing by my side, this could be any race, anywhere around the world. So it really shows the strength of Australian cycling now.
"It really showed the commitment of my team out there today - Cameron did work his butt off in the last few kilometres. He really committed to me there, so I really cannot thank him enough. You saw the way my whole team rode out there today."
GreenEdge and Drapac flooded the main move of the day but on the final few laps it was the WorldTour team that stamped their authority on the battling underdogs.
"The plan was always to try and have it together for me on the last lap if the race was any way under the threat and the guys committed to that.
"They brought it back together for me and then we saw Cameron Meyer work tirelessly for me on the last lap and make sure it was all together in that little group at the front.
"To have Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge and Mitch Docker in the front in that breakaway, they are three of our stronger riders.
"So we were confident that if that break was going to go all the way, those guys could finish it off."
Gerrans will take the confidence boosting win into the Tour Down Under, which starts later this month. A two-time winner of the event, he will spearhead GreenEdge’s overall challenge in the first WorldTour race of the season.
"The plan is to go to Tour Down Under with a focus on the overall. Today was a little bit of a test for me. I haven't raced since early September. I knew I'd done all the hard work in training, but I didn't really know where my form was at. I'm obviously really pleased with where it's at, at the end of today."