Orica-GreenEdge are in the midst of drawing up a new set of battle plans after Simon Gerrans was ruled out of his Tour Down Under defence with a broken collarbone. The Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner crashed during a mountain bike ride earlier this week and despite a swift operation will miss the opening month of the season which includes the Australian road nationals.
The loss of Gerrans leaves Orica-GreenEdge scratching around for a new talisman and leader but Matt White believes that the loss of Gerrans could see the Australian team provide a more aggressive approach at the Tour Down Under.
“We’re still piecing that together and nothing is locked in, but the core of the groups has been decided. It’s more than likely that we will try and chase stage wins and be a bit more aggressive than try and target the overall,” White told Cyclingnews.
“With Simon we were going in as favourites so whoever we replace him with, it means we won’t be the favourites any more, that’s for sure. I’m still confident that we’ll be able to put a great team together and get some results but Simon Gerrans isn’t easy to replace. To win Tour Down Under you’ve got to prepare specifically for it but I’m sure that we’re going to come up with something that will animate the race.”
The team’s roster has yet to be announced but White’s hands are somewhat tied with selection. Michael Albasini, a rider who could have potentially replaced Gerrans as the team’s leader has been off the bike due to a crash of his own and Michael Matthews – the team’s other candidate to lead – was supposed to start his season much later. With the Tour Down Under less than a month away, changing race schedules to such a significant degree could be to the detriment of a rider and the team.
“Matthews wasn’t supposed to start racing until Paris-Nice so to bring his race plan forward by six or seven weeks doesn’t really work but we’ll make a decision soon. It’s likely that an Australian will replace Simon,” White added.
“If this had happened four weeks then you could have looked to the Yates brothers as the course suits them but it’s less than a month away and if guys are looking to prepare for March, it’s hard to make that work. You also have to factor in the heat if you’re trying to bring people out at the last minute.”
One alternative could see the team line up with Cameron Meyer as a potential leader. The Australian won the race under White’s guidance while the pair were at Garmin in 2011.