MILAN (VN) — Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) will head to Italy next month as part of his comeback from early-season injuries. After the Ardennes classics and the Tour de Romandie, he will return to the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2009.
It has been a hard start after a successful 2014 run. Gerrans won a stage and the overall victory in the Tour Down Under, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and both Canadian one-day races — the GP Quebec and GP Montreal. He returned to Europe from Canada to take the silver medal at the world championship road race in Ponferrada, Spain, behind Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski.
The Giro d’Italia, which starts May 9 in Liguria on Italy’s northwest coast, could suit Gerrans as he searches to reach the top again.
“I have just completed my first block of racing, which included Vuelta a la Rioja and the Tour of the Basque Country,” Gerrans said in a press statement. “Although the bare results do not equate to much, I am really happy with the progression I was able to make through these two events.
“However having missed the entire first part of the season and with a very limited preparation for the upcoming Ardennes classics, the Orice-GreenEdge team management and I have decided to add the Giro d’Italia to my program. The Giro is perfectly timed for my first peak of the season. With my latest racing block, the classics and then the Tour of Romandie in my legs, I will arrive at the Giro fresh and hopefully in top condition.”
Gerrans has only raced the Giro once before, six years ago in 2009 with Cervélo TestTeam. That year, he won the hilltop finish to San Luca in Bologna’s outskirts and helped Spaniard Carlos Sastre finish second overall.
“In my career to date, I have enjoyed four grand tour stage wins and I hope I can add to that at the Giro,” Gerrans said.
“There are some great opportunities, particularly in the first couple of weeks. There are several stages that we anticipate will either finish in a breakaway or in a reduced bunch. If I am able to get a stage result early enough in the race and the team can perform even close to what the guys did in the opening stages last year, then the pink jersey is not out of the question for us.”
The Australian WorldTour team won the opening time trial last year to put Canadian Svein Tuft in the leader’s pink jersey. Tuft’s Australian teammate Michael Matthews took over the lead for the next six days, which included a stage win in Montecassino.
Gerrans will lead up to the Giro with the Ardennes Classics, racing the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday and trying to defend his Liège-Bastogne-Liège next Sunday. The Tour de Romandie, his last race before the Giro, begins April 28.
After the Giro, Gerrans will back off and rebuild for the Tour de France. The only race on his program is the Tour de Suisse in mid-June.
Orica’s Giro lineup should include Matthews again, along with general classification riders Australian Simon Clarke and Colombian Esteban Chaves. The team has yet to announce its full roster.
“With Simon in our roster, we will have one of the most competitive lineups for what we want to do in the race,” sport director Matt White said.
“It’s a big priority for us again this season and with Simon in top condition, we will have one of the strongest cards to play for the first part of the race. He is coming along very well after numerous setbacks, which kept him out of action for the first part of the season, but I am confident he will be at his best when we start the race.”
Like in Belfast last year, the Giro starts with a team time trial. The 17.6-kilometer stage to Sanremo mostly runs on bike paths along the Ligurian Sea.