Road

Gerrans slated to return to racing at Pais Vasco

Simon Gerrans says he'll still aim for the Ardennes classics after he returns to training and racing in the beginning of April

It has been the winter of Simon Gerrans’ discontent, 2015 has.

First, he missed the closest thing he has to a home race on the WorldTour circuit, Tour Down Under. A broken collarbone scuttled his plans to defend the title he won Down Under in 2014. Then, an elbow injury sustained at Strade Bianche at the beginning of March — his first race back from injury — knocked him out of Milano-Sanremo, which runs on Sunday, another race he’s won before.

His Orica-GreenEdge team is hoping that his return to racing, tentatively planned for Vuelta al País Vasco, April 6-11 will put the 34-year-old’s problems behind him.

Gerrans had hoped to race next week’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, but a doctor recommended he postpone his return to ensure adequate rehabilitation.

“I had my elbow fracture checked by a specialist today, and unfortunately my recovery isn’t to a point where I’m able to ride on the road, so I will need to skip the Volta Catalunya,” Gerrans said in a team statement.

“For the moment I will continue to do a lot of work on the home trainer and will hopefully get back out on the road in the near future.

“At this stage, my next race is set to be Tour of the Basque Country in a couple of week’s time.”

Gerrans is surely disappointed to miss the start of the spring classics, this weekend at La Primavera, but he’s still optimistic to take on the hilly Ardennes races in April, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he’s the defending champion.

“It’s still too early to rule out the second part of the classics,” Gerrans said. “We’ll make a decision on my schedule once I am back racing.”

Sport director Matt White said the two-time Australian champion’s recovery was of highest importance, but that racing condition will also be a vital consideration in reevaluating his calendar going forward.

“The most important thing right now is Simon’s recovery, and once he’s able to race, we’ll see how we can best manage his program going onwards,” White said.

“The fact that he might already be on the road in a couple of weeks is still very good progress, but it’s not the time of year where you can jump into the biggest races and expect to be in with a winning chance.

“His condition is definitely good, but he needs races to really be competitive at his highest level, so we’ll evaluate and potentially redefine his next goals once he’s back on the road.”

Indeed, there’s already talk of Gerrans shifting his objectives to a later time in the season. Specifically the world championships in Richmond, Virginia, has a course well-suited for the puncheur’s strengths.

“He’s the type of rider who can target and win most races,” White said, “so it’s more a question of what to aim at, once he’s back.”