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Vuelta a Espana

Orica’s Gerrans targets Vuelta stage wins, worlds victory

The Orica-GreenEdge rider won a stage at the Tour de France and spent two days wearing the yellow jersey

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Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) promises to keep on truckin’ all the way through the end of the season.

The Orica captain is coming off a highly successful Tour de France in which he won a stage, helped drive home the team time trial victory, and wore the yellow jersey for two days.

With the world championships waiting in Italy with a course ideal for Gerrans’ punchy style, the 33-year-old said there’s no reason to hit the brakes now.

“I’ll have a bit of a rest and then go to the Vuelta,” Gerrans told VeloNews. “We’ll try to do something big at the Vuelta, then go strong into the final part of the season.”

Gerrans has been racing strong since the Santos Tour Down Under in January, where he started as defending champion. He succumbed to allergies during that race but still managed to win the “queen stage” up Old Willunga Hill.

After a solid spring that included third at Amstel Gold Race and stage victories at both the Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al País Vasco, Gerrans came into the Tour de France with hopes of winning another stage.

The win came before the Tour left Corsica, with Gerrans out-kicking Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and JJ Rojas (Movistar) in the hilly third stage that saw the pure sprinters get blown off the back.

Orica then made it two in a row, winning the team time trial the following day in Nice. That put Gerrans in the yellow jersey, making him just the sixth Australian to wear the yellow tunic.

“The Tour was fantastic. The goal was to win a stage, and we ended up winning two, and we had the lead for four days within the team,” Gerrans said. “We were really wrapped with that.”

Orica played hot-potato with the yellow jersey, with Gerrans leading out Daryl Impey to carry the lead into the Pyrénées.

Rather than cool his jets after the Tour, Gerrans promises to keep racing at least through the world championships in Italy. The hilly course is well suited to Gerrans’ style of racing, but he admits he has not had time to inspect the course yet.

“I haven’t ridden around the course, but talking to people who have, it sounds like it should be up my alley,” he said. “I hope to come out of the Vuelta in good shape, we should have a good shot.”

Though he’s neither a stage racer, climber, or time trial specialist, Gerrans remains the only Australian rider to win stages in all three grand tours.

Gerrans can climb well enough to ride into breakaways and win out of small bunch sprints, but he knows he doesn’t stand a chance against the pure sprinters or climbers.

That means he must be judicious in his efforts and pick out the right stages to go on the attack during stage races.

With a Vuelta course loaded with hilly stages and hilltop finales, Gerrans is hoping to add to his haul of grand tour stage wins.

And with his penchant to win big-time races, including the 2012 Milano-San Remo, Gerrans knows the worlds course presents an interesting opportunity.

“There are still a lot of races I’d like to win, but the worlds is certainly right up there,” he said. “I hope to be in good shape from here to [the] end of the season, so hopefully I won’t be too far off the mark.”