In a strong contingent of nine riders at the start in Brest on Saturday, Simon Gerrans will be one of the most experienced Australians, although he's only in his fourth year as a professional. But that will be his fourth Tour de France as well – just like Cadel Evans who will attract most of the media attention this year. Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet caught up with the Crédit Agricole rider before the start in Brest.
Of the nine Australians to start this year's Tour, only Stuart O'Grady, Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke have started more Tours than Evans and Simon Gerrans. Milram's Brett Lancaster only had a taste of it last year as he had to pull out on stage five because of injuries, while Adam Hansen from Team Columbia, Crédit Agricole's Mark Renshaw and Trent Lowe of Garmin-Chipotle are rookies in the Tour.
Nine isn't the largest number of Aussies to have raced the Tour at once. There could have been more, but Olympians Michael Rogers, Graeme Brown and Bradley McGee were not selected by Team Columbia, Rabobank and CSC respectively.
"Being nine Australians isn't a record," Gerrans recalled. "In 2005 we were ten and all of us finished. Last year, after a couple of stages I only had Cadel to talk with [Lancaster, McEwen, O'Grady and Rogers crashed and pulled out before halfway, ed.]. As he had a lot on his mind, he wasn't there for much chatting in the bunch."
For the first time in four years of riding on French teams, Gerrans will be able to room with a compatriot – Renshaw. He was the only Australian at AG2R. His move to Crédit Agricole hasn't jeopardised his presence at the Tour de France, something he secured by winning stage one and finishing fourth overall at the Route du Sud.
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