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Gerrans eyeing Ardennes, without overlooking Sanremo

Simon Gerrans isn't forgetting Milano-Sanremo, but admits the Ardennes suit him better than the sprinter-friendly course to open the spring classics

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RIVE-DE-GIER, France (VN) — Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) might have taken his biggest win at Milano-Sanremo, but this spring, he’s looking past next weekend’s monument toward the hills of Belgium.

The 33-year-old Australian, who beat back Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) at Sanremo in a thrilling battle in 2012, said the hillier terrain of the Ardennes is his next target.

“It’s all about focusing on the Ardennes right now,” Gerrans told VeloNews. “We still have five, six weeks to go. I had a good rest after the Australian races, and now I am in a rebuilding phase.”

Gerrans has made it no secret that he’d love to win one of the Ardennes classics, and the steep hills and explosive, uphill finales at Amstel Gold Race, where he was third in 2011, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are ideal for his style of racing. He’s a consistent performer at “La Doyenne,” twice punching into the top 10, including a career-best sixth in 2009.

After opening the 2014 season with victory in the Australian national championship and the Santos Tour Down Under on home roads, Gerrans is easing into the meat of his European season, which includes the Ardennes and the Tour de France.

Gerrans admitted Milano-Sanremo, which has reverted back to the sprint-friendly route, without the La Maniè and Pompeiana climbs, isn’t ideal.

“The more selective the final, the better it is for me. It is what it is,” he continued. “I will still race it and throw my hat in the ring, but it’s a lot less likely. We’re back to the course from 2007, with a more traditional finish for the sprinters. It’s a lot more likely it will be a bunch sprint with some sprinters there.”

For Sanremo, Orica-GreenEdge will also be able to count on 2011 winner Matthew Goss as well as improving young sprinter Michael Matthews.

Gerrans is using this week’s Paris-Nice to ease back into his European schedule.

Despite losing time in the opening stage Sunday, when he was caught up behind crashes late in the race, Gerrans insisted he didn’t come to the “Race to the Sun” with GC ambitions.

“On paper, it’s a nice looking race for me, but there are other elements. I really suffer from allergies, and the further south we go in France, the worse it gets for me,” he said. “There are a lot of things you don’t see on paper. I had a good rest after the races in Australia, and now I’m in a rebuilding phase.”

Gerrans is known as one of the smartest, cagiest riders in the bunch, so when he says he’s targeting the Ardennes classics, that means the dates are circled on his calendar. His rivals should take notice.

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