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Gerrans welcomes leadership role in Orica-GreenEdge’s youth movement

Australia’s Road Cyclist of the Year relishes opportunity to teach team’s young guns, targets Amstel Gold Race and Tour de France in 2015

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Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans has been on fire the past three seasons dating back to his Milano-Sanremo win in 2012. In 2013, the 34-year-old Victorian went on to become just the sixth Australian to wear the maillot jaune at the Tour de France before the reigning two-time national champion blistered the field in 2014.

Gerrans started the year by winning his third Tour Down Under before taking third at the Amstel Gold Race and then recording the “biggest win of his career” at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Gerrans also became the first rider in history to do the double at the Canadian WorldTour races, winning both the GP Cycliste de Québec and GP Cycliste de Montréal, before capping the year with a silver medal in the men’s road race at the UCI world championships in Spain.

“If I could have another season like 2014, I’d sign off on that in one second flat,” Gerrans told VeloNews two days removed from earning the hat trick at the Jayco Australian Cyclist of the Year awards in Melbourne, in late November, when he took home the Sir Hubert ‘Oppy’ Opperman Medal, as well as the Elite Male Road Cyclist of the Year trophy and the Subaru People’s Choice Award.

On top of that, Gerrans was also named to the Cycling Australia’s Tour de France ‘Team of the Century’ which included Opperman, Cadel Evans, Richie Porte, Robbie McEwen, Michael Rogers, Brad McGee, Mark Renshaw, and the man that introduced Gerrans to cycling — Phil Anderson.

“It was such an honor to win all three awards, but to be named on Australia’s Tour de France ‘Team of the Century’ was special,” said Gerrans, who has won two stages at the Tour (2008, 2013) and earned the yellow jersey after the team time trial win on stage four in 2013.

“The first thing I said to Phil when we were named on the team was, ‘I bet you didn’t ever think we were going to be teammates?’”

Gerrans is looking forward to mentoring the next generation as well, with an influx of young talent at Orica-GreenEdge. The team has won 101 races during its first three seasons, and boasts a host of young riders, including British twins Adam and Simon Yates, Magnus Cort, Jack Haig, and Caleb Ewan — all of whom are under 22 years old.

“I sort of see that as my most important role in the team,” said Gerrans. “I want to try and really guide these young guys and be a good influence on them and their careers because they have 10 times more talent than what I had at their age.

“What we can expect from this young group in years to come is going to be pretty phenomenal I think.”

While Gerrans, who signed a three-year contract extension in July, is embracing his leadership role on the team, he admits there are boxes left to tick on his own personal bucket list.

“There is still plenty left to do,” he said. “ I think just because you’ve won a race once doesn’t mean you don’t want to go back and win it again.”

Gerrans said he showed up to the Tour in his best form of the season before a collision with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) on stage 1 ultimately forced him to abandon after stage 16. The Aussie claims that he has a few more items on his immediate agenda, before he settles unfinished business in France.

“My first big goal of the year is obviously the races we have in Australia as they are really important races for the team,” said Gerrans. “Then it’s over to Europe for the spring classics and the Ardennes.

“The Ardennes are the races that I really get motivated for and really enjoy racing, and I have big passion for those races and then the Tour.”

Other than the world championships, Gerrans admits there is one race that still haunts him and he has clearly targeted for 2015 — the Amstel Gold Race.

“I think I’ve broken the record for the most third places in the Amstel Gold Race,” he said. “So, I would love to go a couple of spots better and win that one this year.”

Editor’s note: Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews