As Richie Porte was riding to victory on Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under on Saturday, Simon Gerrans' overall lead and dream of clinching a fourth overall victory looked to be disappearing just as fast as the BMC rider was climbing. But having won atop the hill in 2012 and ridden the stage on several occasions, Gerrans knew what was required in the final kilometre to hold onto the ochre jersey and set up a fourth overall victory.
"That’s one thing I was trying to avoid in the finale there: no panicking, going too hard, exploding. I knew that if I blew there on that final climb, then I was going to put my jersey in jeopardy. I thought if I just keep my cool and ride my own pace, in the final when they attacked me in the final I should be fine to hang on and I was just right," said Gerrans who crossed the line 17 seconds down on Porte in eighth place.
"I expected Richie to attack, boy when he attacked he went fast. You know his one of the best in world at what he does so there was no big surprises there."
The nine-second buffer that Gerrans enjoys going into Sunday's 91km Adelaide criterium is monument compared to 2012 when started with the same time as Alejandro Valverde and 2014 when he defended a one-second lead over Cadel Evans (BMC).
Ten year's on from his intial triumph, Gerrans explained he was in a state of disbelief after the stage.
"It’s hard to believe I’ve won this race four times now, every year I come back it just seems to get bigger and better and the level of race increases every year so to get a fourth title I am absolutely over the moon," he said.
"This is huge race for the team, we put a lot of emphasis on it , we’ve got so many great supporters here in Australia, obviously Gerry Ryan and the Ryan family put a lot of support into the team. Obviously we can’t thank them enough, Orica as well. All our supporters here in Australia so it’s great to win for them."