By Shane Stokes in Plumelec
Australian rider Simon Gerrans was smiling at the start of day one of the Tour de France in Brest, enjoying the bright weather and the good atmosphere at the sign on area. He has come to the race in good form, winning the first stage of the recent Route du Sud, and appeared to be looking forward to helping team leader Thor Hushovd.
"With Thor in the team, the first week is all about him and trying to get him in yellow," he stated. "We will have our work cut out helping him out. On a day like today it will be pretty important to have somebody in the break as well, in case a group does stay away. We will be trying a bit of everything, I guess."
With riders such as Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi missing from the Tour peloton, many are tipping Hushovd to take his second green jersey. Cyclingnews asked Gerrans if this increased the stress on the team.
"I don't know," he answered. "I think there is always pressure on the team here with a big leader like Thor. The pressure is always on, it doesn't matter who is here or who is not here. He is always a favourite. Anyway, you can't take anything away from the field here this year, I think there's going to be good sprints."
His own characteristics mean that he could find success himself from a breakaway. He said that he was pleased with his sensations in the Dauphiné Libéré and the Route du Sud, and freshened up well in advance of the start of the Tour. He and the rest of the team have a big incentive to do well; Crédit Agricole is ending its sponsorship at the end of the season and, at this point, no replacement has been secured. A Tour de France stage win or green jersey might give the team extra leverage.
For now, the riders must wait and see what happens. "We have been told all along that we are going to find out at the beginning of August at the latest," he stated. "Roger [Legeay] has had good contacts and talks with prospective sponsors, but nothing is signed yet. That is all we know so far."