It’s hardly the Christmas present 2014 Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) was hoping for.
Gerrans snapped his collarbone while mountain biking over the weekend, and will miss the chance to defend his titles at the Australian national championship and at the Santos Tour Down Under next month.
Gerrans, 34, was scheduled to undergo surgery on his left shoulder Monday, and admitted he will not be at a top level to race in January.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how well the recovery goes from here, I don’t think I am going to be in any condition to be racing at a high level in January,” Gerrans said in a team release. “With that in mind I think it is better to take my time, make sure the recovery goes well and get all the rehab done so I don’t have any ongoing issues.
“Looking on the bright side, what it does do, is force a bit of a break now and mean that I can work towards some goals later in the season and be a lot fresher,” Gerrans continued.
Gerrans crashed Sunday while training off-road, landing hard on his left side.
“About halfway through my mountain bike ride I became a little unstuck, came down and landed pretty heavily on my left side,” he explained. “I knew straight away as I hit the ground that I had broken my left collarbone. From there I had a little bit of a walk to get down to a point where I was picked up by a four-wheel drive and went directly to Mansfield hospital to get cleaned up and have the x-ray to confirm.”
Team officials said Gerrans would likely need 10 days off the bike before he can resume training, meaning that he will have to recalibrate his season focus toward the spring classics. Orica was building its entire TDU team around Gerrans, but will now have to reset its goals for the UCI WorldTour opener.
“He is the ultimate professional, and he will be back on the bike in no time and hunting down his next victory before we know it,” Orica sport director Matt White said. “In terms of the team this summer, there is no doubt it is a huge hit, but we have some really motivated guys who are looking really strong. Now it is their chance to step up and deliver in a very important period for us and we are really confident they can do that.”
Gerrans will likely make his season debut in Europe to tune his form ahead of an assault on the spring classics.
The crash puts an unfortunate ending to his otherwise superb 2014 campaign, which included victories from January to October, among them Liège, second at the world championships, and victories in the Canadian WorldTour races.