Tour de France stage winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) is looking to dominate over the coming months down under having set himself the goal of taking home his third Jayco Herald Sun Tour victory in February.
Gerrans, who is one of just six Australians to have worn the Tour’s yellow jersey, will return to his home race in pursuit of a trio of Sun Tour victories, following his back-to-back wins in 2005 and 2006.
"The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is a race that I grew up watching as a kid and it was always such a big highlight of my season early in my career, so it’s always great to have the opportunity to go back and compete in the race again and with an Aussie professional team as well," Gerrans said.
The change in the racing schedule to February has been welcomed by Gerrans with the race now taking place just a week after the Tour Down Under.
"Moving the race has worked out really well because it has allowed me to stay in Australia in the good weather for an extra few weeks and miss a stage race over in Europe in the cold conditions," Gerrans explained.
While still getting back to race fitness and unsure just how his legs are, Gerrans is confident that his GreenEdge teammates will help him to the win.
"Obviously because I am in the middle of a heavy training load it’s hard to gauge exactly where I am at but everything feels like it is on track at the moment and probably even slightly in front of where I would normally be at this time of year," said Gerrans.
"We should have a really competitive line up with the team with a mix of experience and younger guys and we should have all bases covered [and] we expect to be competitive in all of the stages, from the sprint stages to the hillier ones."
Gerrans, who has just returned from an Orica-GreenEDGE team training camp where he was resigned to the fact that he is 'well and truly one of the older guys' following some key squad changes over the break, has commended the change of racing calendar for providing the best opportunities for Australian riders to prepare for the European season.
"The first thing I will be doing following the Sun Tour is having a little rest and travelling over to Europe. With such a heavy racing schedule to get things started it’s actually really important that you back things off a little bit again in order to peak again for the Spring Classics which will be the next big goal of mine in Europe."
While past winners of the race include some well-known names such as Bradley Wiggins, repeat victories have proven hard to come by. Gerrans is the only rider in the modern era to have won the race more than once. Race director John Trevorrow is a former three time winner and his overall victory in 1979 was the last time a rider added a third win to their palmares.
Victoria’s oldest and most prestigious stage race returns to a UCI 2.1 international level in 2014 and moves to a new February timeslot from Wednesday 5 to Sunday 9. Beginning with a twilight city centre prologue in Melbourne, the race moves into regional Victoria with the final and decisive day of racing to take place at popular Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula. The Amy Gillett Foundation’s gran fondo, Amy’s Ride Victoria will take place prior to racing on the final stage.