Culture

Simon Gerrans continues to challenge himself in retirement

From working in high finance to announcing the Tour de France, Simon Gerrans has tackled multiple challenges since retiring in 2018.

In recognition of the Tour Down Under’s cancelation, we have features, interviews, photo galleries, and other stories to celebrate Australian cycling as part of “Aussie Week.”

U.S. cycling fans may have recognized a familiar soprano voice on their Tour de France livestream this past September.

Australian great Simon Gerrans joined announcer Anthony McCrossan as a studio commentator for the Tour’s commercial-free livestream on NBC Sports Gold, and for 21 days he offered his insights on the action going on inside the race.

Fans may have missed that the job marked an important milestone for Gerrans, 42, as a race announcer. Not only was this Gerrans’ first time doing the Tour de France, it was his first time commentating on a televised bicycle race at all.

“Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Gerrans told VeloNews. “I fumbled my way through the first few days, but then I felt like I got my groove. We did it a little different, telling a lot of stories in addition to announcing. I tried to call the race for diehard fans, and also in a way that the larger community to relate to.”

Television sports commentators often spend years perfecting their craft, and it’s a job that rewards meticulous preparation and sixth sense-like skills that must be learned through trial and error. Yet, by the end of the Tour de France Gerrans — in the opinion of this writer, anyway — had become as good as any English-speaking color commentator calling bike races.

Gerrans won the 2012 Milano-Sanremo against Fabian Cancellara. Photo: Tim De Waele/Getty Images

The Tour broadcast marked just another success in Gerrans’ charmed post-cycling career, which over two years has already taken a few twists and turns. During his tenure in pro cycling Gerrans forged a reputation as a tough-as-nails competitor and a cagy tactician — look no further than his wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2014) and Milano-Sanremo (2012) as proof. In retirement Gerrans has been equally as ambitious and calculating.

He has worked in finance for investment giant Goldman Sachs and become the CEO of a bike tourism/retail company, all in the span of two years. Adding the title of Tour de France commentator to his resume, in truth, is probably his least impressive accomplishment in retirement.

“My racing career finished up two years ago but it already feels like a lifetime ago,” Gerrans said. “I’m a person who doesn’t sit still very well and I need to have plenty of things to really focus on. So in that regard my transition out of the peloton has been great.”

Gerrans scored his final WorldTour individual win in 2016 by winning his fourth and final GC title at the Tour Down Under, and by 2018 he had moved to BMC Racing for what would be his final year racing, to work as a domestique for countryman Richie Porte. During that final season Gerrans began to think about his life after cycling.

Before becoming a professional Gerrans had studied business in college — he left to pursue racing — and in 2018 he applied for an internship with international investment bank Goldman Sachs that is geared for athletes. The company’s London Sports Internship program offered a six-month internship in the company’s securities division, and Gerrans started in November 2018, less than a month after his farewell race.

“I go from racing to working 10-plus hour days behind a computer screen in a massive office — it was just what I needed,” Gerrans said. “I was looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and learning new skills and surrounding myself with different people. I had this desire to start at the bottom and set a goal for myself and just start working.”

Gerrans retired in 2018 after one season with BMC Racing. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Gerrans said his hard pivot to finance — and not a job inside the bike industry — came from his experience with other retired pros, many of whom jumped into roles with pro teams or bike industry brands without getting familiar with a different walk of life. Gerrans said he always saw himself returning to the bike world some day, but before he did so he wanted to work away from the sport.

“I had been involved with so many people in the sport, and the sport was all they knew and in my opinion they have a very narrow view,” Gerrans said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into that category if and when I came back to the sport.”

After completing his internship Gerrans took a job in the company’s foreign exchange division — the job wasn’t his preferred move, he said, but he saw it as a way to further develop his skills. After one year at Goldman Sachs he began to search for work elsewhere.

“I took the job in foreign exchange and got to the point where I realized I would need to be there for a few more years if I wanted to transfer to a different part of the bank,” he said.

Instead, Gerrans took a job with the Girona-based luxury bike shop The Service Course, which operates shops in three locations as well as a cycling tourism business. Gerrans stepped into the role of Chief Operating Officer in January 2019 alongside the company’s founder, retired pro Christian Meier. In 2021 Gerrans became the company’s CEO.

Gerrans was managing the company’s spreadsheets and inventory lists this past spring when COVID-19 swept across Europe and put the company’s tourism business on hold. Gerrans’ job became akin to crisis management.

“It was a steep learning curve,” he said.

Then, as the summer became the fall, Gerrans saw another opportunity open.

The pandemic had grounded international travel, meaning longtime Australian broadcaster Robbie McEwan was unable to fly to the Tour de France to complete the commentary. Gerrans was suggested for the job, and in a whirlwind few weeks found himself calling the race alongside McCrossan — learning another new skill, on the fly, as a retired pro.

“You retire in your 30s and you have your whole life ahead of you,” Gerrans said. “The [cyclists] who struggle are the guys whose career ends prematurely and they don’t have a plan. Or, they are defined by their profession. I didn’t want that.”