Simon Gerrans’ (Team Sky) 2011 season doesn’t quite have the same lustre as seasons past. It's not that the Australian has been inconsistent or has lacked results; he was third in the Australian Road Championships, fourth in a stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, and rode to a career-best result in the Ardennes with third at Amstel Gold. However clearly absent is a victory. The Australian needs one – in fact, he’s been itching for one since his move to Team Sky at the end of 2009.
For a rider of Gerrans' pedigree it seems hard to believe. Perhaps even harder considering that his move to Team Sky came after a bumper couple of years with Cervelo Test Team, in which many pundits felt the classics specialist had finally come of age. Gerrans however, seems relaxed about the situation and speaking to Cyclingnews explained that success at Sky doesn’t always mean taking top honours.
"We've had a lot of success, I just haven’t had the same amount of individual opportunities as I did in 2009 - but personal success isn’t always measured by crossing the line first," he said.
The shift in focus has seen the Australian become a key pillar in Bradley Wiggins support team, and to that end with good team performances at Paris-Nice (where the Brit finished third overall) and the Criterium du Dauphine, Gerrans' season has more to it than meets the eye.
"At Paris-Nice the big goal was to support Wiggins, and not so much to go for stage wins. The same could be said of the Dauphine," the 31-year-old explained. "Looking at [the Dauphine], I don’t think a single breakaway got all the way to the finish, so it would’ve been a wasted opportunity to go up the road. That time was better spent working for Brad winning the overall, and that was one of the big goals for the team."
Gerrans doesn’t mind working for a rider like Wiggins, who can win the overall at the Tour de France, it’s something he has done before at Cervelo with Carlos Sastre. In fact, Gerrans feels that in its own way being on a General Classification team provides its own opportunities.
"There are times when you’re riding for a GC leader that it’s an advantage to have someone up the road. That’s how I won a stage at the Giro a couple of years ago when I was riding for Carlos [Sastre]," he continued. "That same opportunity may not arise in this year’s Tour, but going up the road can definitely provide an advantage to Brad and take pressure off him."
Looking towards the Tour, Gerrans feels his preparation has gone well and he’s on track to ride a strong Grand Boucle.
"I’ve done plenty of racing with the guys I’ll be racing with. I’m really happy with where I’m at, and I’ll be getting ride my legs in for the first week and hopefully if all goes well, I’ll be hitting my straps and be able to do a good job as the race wears on."