Cracks in the relationship first surfaced at the Worlds in September when both riders appeared to work for themselves rather than one single leader. Matthews made the podium but in a post-race interview with Cyclingnews openly criticised Gerrans' race tactics. With the race coming so late in the season Orica and their two star riders were given little chance to ease any tension in subsequent races with the off-season providing the environment for the media and those outside of the team to speculate.
Both riders will start the season with very different race programmes. Gerrans starts the season in Australia and will target the Tour Down Under with teammate Caleb Ewan likely to feature, while Matthews starts his campaign in Europe. The pair are unlikely to race together until the Spring Classics, however that is similar set of schedule to ones both riders enjoyed this year – albeit after Gerrans missed several early races with an injury.
When asked in a recent interview by the Herald Sun how he and Matthews would work together, Gerrans responded by putting the onus on the team's management.
"That's a question you should ask team management. Because, as an athlete in the team, I've been given certain objectives and told what I need to work towards and when I need to be in top shape and that's what I've got to focus on," Gerrans said.
"As far as what they do with the rest of the team and who they're telling to target what, that's a team management decision."
Earlier this month Matt White, who has been working on race programmes for both riders, told Cyclingnews that both riders would work different schedules until the Spring. In the short term this will offer both riders space, while also giving Orica's management the chance to assess who will be handed the reigns come the Ardennes Classics. As last season proved with Gerrans' crashes, a lot can happen between now and April.
"Regarding those two, they have a very different start to the season, whereas Simon is hoping to start the season all guns blazing, Michael starts the season considerably later," White told Cyclingnews.
"They don't actually do too much racing with each other in the first part of the season. And that's because there are so many races in spring that you want to split the calendar with them. We want them both chasing targets."