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Gerrans brushes off crash, optimistic for classics

Aussie road champ riding Milan-San Remo for Goss with an eye toward the Ardennes

RODEZ, France (VN) — Who says luck doesn’t play a role in professional cycling?

Yesterday, Australian national champion Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) just missed out on victory in a photo finish to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Flash forward 24 hours and Gerrans was ready to go again when he crashed with 5km to go.

“There was a bit of gravel in that corner and I went straight down,” Gerrans told VeloNews. “I am a bit disappointed because I was hoping to do something again today.

“I was in the middle of the group, came through a corner with some gravel and I just went straight down. Crashing with 5km to go, there’s nothing you can do.”

Gerrans, 31, has had a cracking start to the 2012 season, winning the Australian national title in his first race of the year and then winning the Tour Down Under for new Aussie team, GreenEdge.

He made his European debut with 34th at the Tour du Haut Var and on Tuesday just missed a stage win against Valverde at Paris-Nice. A month earlier the pair battled up Old Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under, with Valverde nipping Gerrans in a similar photo finish.

Yesterday, Gerrans looked faster than Valverde, but said he simply ran out of road. Another meter and Gerrans likely would have won.

“I was caught out of position yesterday,” Gerrans said. “I came from about a mile back. I was coming pretty quick, but I just ran out of tarmac.”

Gerrans’ most important goals are the upcoming Ardennes classics, where he is hoping to repeat or better his third place last year at Amstel Gold Race and aim for the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège; Gerrans will likely square off again against Valverde. The Australian will race Milan-San Remo, where GreenEdge teammate and defending champion Matt Goss will be the team captain.

“I’ve been feeling really good,” he said. “I am going to race Milan-San Remo, but the major ones for me are Amstel Gold and Liège in April, so they’re still a little way down the track. I am feeling on track for the classics.”