Orica-Greenedge's Simon Gerrans has enjoyed several hard earned successful finishes in his career as he reflects on the Tour de France before next months grand depart. Gerrans became the first Australian rider in 2009 to have won a stage at each of the three Grand Tours – Tour de France in 2008, and both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in 2009. While the team has yet to announce its Tour de France squad, it is likely Gerrans will be among those chosen.
"I guess my first real memory of watching the Tour de France, was watching in the early Armstrong era, probably in 1999," Gerrans said staying up late at night watching highlights from the Tour.
"I've done a lot of Tours now, I guess I've had success but it's been spread out over many years," Gerrans explained. The veteran of the squad has won three stages at the Tour de France thus far, earning a couple yellow jerseys in the process. "My first stage win at the Tour de France in 2008 was pretty special because it really felt like I had arrived on the professional scene then to get a result at the highest level," he said. "But then back in 2013, to wear the yellow jersey, and to take that yellow jersey with the team time trial win with Orica-Greenedge, that was a really special feeling to stand up on the podium with all 9 of us, all close mates and get that result was really special."
Orica-Greenedge has flourished this year, winning several stage wins, and stints in the leaders jersey by Gerrans and others from Paris-Nice to the Giro d'Italia. Gerrans opened the Giro d'Italia with a win during the team time trial, as he crossed the line first to don the maglia rosa. Before the weeks end, two other teammates would enjoy that accolade as well, finishing one of the teams' best Giro d'Italia to date.
One of those teammates was Michael Matthews, a bright young star with an impressive palmarès early in his professional career. However, Gerrans explains that it took many years for him to develop into a successful rider compared to Matthews. "I didn't come out guns blazing, as a super talented professional to start with," he said. "It's taken many, many years of hard work whereas, Michael's 10 years younger than me. He's getting some big results straight up so there's quite a contrast in how we're getting our results."
While the squad does not have a general classification contender, they will head into the Tour next month focused on stage wins.
"I think our goal for the Tour this year is just to be going for stage wins. I think there's going to be some good opportunities in the first part of the race, and hopefully in some select finishes," he explained. "Then, as the race sort of gets in to the mountains, we've got some guys that can go for some opportunistic breakaways when the race hits the hills."
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