Simon Gerrans is aiming to make history at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, the oldest cycling stage race in the Australian state of Victoria.
Gerrans, who won an individual stage at this year’s Tour de France and was part of Orica-GreenEdge’s team time trial victory, hopes to become just the fourth three-time winner in the Herald Sun Tour’s 61-year history in February.
“The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is a race that I grew up watching as a kid and it was always such a big highlight of my season early in my career, so it’s always great to have the opportunity to go back and compete in the race again and with an Aussie professional team as well,” Gerrans said in a press release.
The five-day race starts with a prologue time trial on February 5 and ends with stage 4 on February 9. Gerrans was victorious in the 2005 and 2006 editions. Two other riders — John Trevorrow (1975, 1977, 1979) and Graham McVilly (1971, 1973-74) — have won the race three times. Barry Waddell (1964-1968) is the only five-time winner.
The 33-year-old Gerrans, who wore the yellow jersey for two days in France this year, said he is currently in the middle of a hard training block as he prepares for the upcoming season.
“Obviously because I am in the middle of a heavy training load it’s hard to gauge exactly where I am at, but everything feels like it is on track at the moment and probably even slightly in front of where I would normally be at this time of year,” Gerrans said. “We should have a really competitive lineup with the team with a mix of experience and younger guys and we should have all bases covered.
“We expect to be competitive in all of the stages, from the sprint stages to the hillier ones, and a couple of us will be coming off a block of racing in January so we should be in strong shape for the race.”
The Herald Sun Tour used to be contested in October, but it was moved to January for 2013 after it was downgraded from a UCI 2.1 event to a National Event. The UCI has since upgraded it back to 2.1 status and reassigned it to a February timeslot.
“What an opportunity it is for Victorians to be able to watch one of just six Australian Tour de France yellow jersey holders race on their local streets,” Victoria Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty said. “I encourage everyone from the regional centres the Tour visits and those in the centre of Melbourne to get roadside for a great summer of cycling action.”
In addition to his Tour de France success in 2013, Gerrans also won a stage in the 2008 Tour and one stage in the 2009 editions of the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. He won the Santos Tour Down Under in 2006 and 2012.