Team Sky rider Simon Gerrans showed he is in devastating form ahead of the Australian Open Road Championships in Ballarat, Victoria, this weekend with a sensational ride to finish second during the second stage of this year's Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Portarlington on Monday.
The Victorian spent most of the day battling ahead of the field, eventually finishing behind race winner Michael Matthews in a two-up sprint. He explained that his performance owed much to solid pre-season preparations.
"I've done a pretty solid pre-season, really... I finished my season at the world championships last year and had a good rest after that. Since then I've pretty much done two months solid work just to prepare for the season. I want to start the season going well," Gerrans told Cyclingnews.
"I took about a month off after Worlds then lost a week because I had to go back to the UK for some team meetings and photographs, that sort of stuff. The first month of the pre-season was a little bit off-and-on but December was pretty solid," he added.
Gerrans' ability in tough one-day races - he finished top 10 in all three Ardennes Classics during the 2009 season - means he starts the Australian national road race championship decider on Sunday as one of the big favourites, with Michael Rogers recently admitting that his new teammate should prove a tough adversary for the title contenders.
"Simon is in pretty good shape and we have a few guys who can support him," said Rogers. "We are in with a great chance to win."
Gerrans wasn't talking up his chances however, explaining that a race day plan is yet to be decided. One thing's for certain though - Team Sky is giving itself an excellent chance of taking the win with the likes of Mat Hayman, Chris Sutton, Gerrans, Rogers and Briton Ben Swift riding the race for the green-and-gold.
"We haven't had a really good talk about it yet but we have a solid team - we have five guys riding the Nationals but the race is such a lottery. You can be the strongest man there on the day but if the break goes on the first lap and it has 15 guys you can get caught out," said Gerrans.
"It's always a bit of a lottery at Nationals but having a strong team's definitely an advantage."
As for the remainder of the season, Gerrans wasn't providing any clues as to whether his race program included the Tour de France - where he'll be seeking redemption after being forced to withdraw early in the 2010 edition - although he did admit that the Ardennes Classics, which were also disappointing for him last season, will be a priority during the first half of 2011.
"I've pretty much got the first half of the season sketched out," he explained. "The team wants to release the program as it goes but my main focus is to start the season going strongly and put in a good performance in the Ardennes."