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Gerrans sees upside to missing Tour Down Under

By Shane Stokes

Simon Gerrans is one notable absentee from the Tour Down Under, the 28-year-old being one of the best-known Australian professionals and a winner of the event in 2006.

The race is often part of his programme but his move to the new Cervélo team sees a change in plan for 2008. The entire squad is together for their big pre-season training camp near Faro in Portugal, and today took in a long ride on the road bike plus a later session on their time trial machines.

Gerrans won a stage of the Tour de France last July and has moved to a new stage in his career. He's hoping that he'll be a contender in the Spring Classics, particularly Amstel Gold, and so views his new season layout as an opportunity, a plus rather than a minus.

"When I heard about the crowds, I guess there is a little bit of regret not being there at the Tour Down Under," he told Cyclingnews on Saturday. "But you have to try something new and I'm hoping that doing a different programme will really help me hit good form for the Classics. If the team does it next year, for sure I'll be there, but I'm happy to do things a different way this season and see how it works out.

"I want to give the Classics a good shot this year. I think the one that should suit me best is probably Amstel Gold. I was twelfth there last year and wasn't very far off making it into the front group."

His July victory was a big plus, but so too another factor. "Obviously winning a stage of the Tour was a big highlight for me, and the Olympic Games was a huge buzz," he said. "But what was a huge highlight for me last year was that every time I set an objective, I came up in really good shape for it. I think that is from experience and learning from the past. That was a real plus for me.

"In the Tour, the plan was all about helping out Thor in the first part of the race, and trying to get him up for a stage. Then come the transition stages and mountain stages, the goal then was to try to get into a breakaway and try to win one. That was the plan going in, but plans don't always work out. So it was great it happened."

Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.