“The sensations I was having on the bike, particularly on the stages I was targeting, were feeling really good. I felt really competitive and back close to my best level.”
The 98th edition of the Giro d’Italia was to be Simon Gerrans’ second start at the Italian grand tour, and first major target for the 2015 season following a series of setbacks.
In 2009, his only other appearance, Gerrans walked away with a stage win. This year he bowed out after stage 12 with a victory in the opening team time trial, a day in the coveted ‘Maglia Rosa’ and a third place on stage seven.
Not only that, but the 35-year-old departed with the physical benefits of his first solid racing block and a feel for chasing results again.
“Physically, I got everything I’d hoped for out of the Giro d’Italia,” Gerrans said. “We put some key stages in, late in the first week and into the second week of the race, to target knowing that my condition was going to improve as the race went on.”
“I felt like I was able to contribute in the early stages, to the team time trial victory and to Michael’s win on stage three and then as the race went on I really felt like I was starting to hit my straps.
“On the days I was targeting I felt like I had the shape to be really competitive so I was pleased with how I was able to progress throughout the 12 days and the form I finished with.”
Along with the honour of donning the pink leader’s jersey ‘for a day in Italy when everyone knows your name’, Gerrans particularly acknowledged the team’s performance in the opening time trial as a highlight.
“There was a lot of expectation to get a result in the team time trial, so there was quite a bit of pressure in the team,” Gerrans explained. “Not so much from management but the riders themselves were putting a lot of pressure on themselves to put in a good performance.
“There was quite a lot at stake and I felt like everyone really stepped up to the mark and put in a fantastic performance. They really committed to the team plan and we were able to come away with the win.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Gerrans’ Giro d’Italia came to an abrupt end when he suffered from another fall on a decent on the 12th stage.
“To crash on yesterday’s stage, which was a stage I was really targeting and hoping to do well in, probably finished things on a bit of a sour note,” Gerrans said.
“The stage was going really well, everyone was riding fantastically and full committed to their job. It was a tough stage and I got through the hardest climb of the day with the front group feeling really good and right in contention to go for the stage win.
“It was just an unfortunate crash on a downhill. A guy a couple of spots in front of me crashed and I probably turned a little bit harder than I should have trying to avoid him and crashed as well.
“I was disappointed to finish with yet another crash this year but to not be able to finish off some great teamwork by the guys was the most bitter pill to swallow.”
Despite being able to complete the day’s racing and with no serious injuries, Gerrans and ORICA-GreenEDGE staff decided to withdraw the 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion from the race as a precautionary measure.
“There is no major concerns injury wise at this stage,” Gerrans said. “I’m pretty bruised and battered at the moment and I’ve got a swollen elbow and swollen hip but nothing I don’t expect will heal up pretty quickly.”
“As far as the withdrawal goes, we were always basing the Giro as a good block of racing with the hope of getting a result. Once we got to a point where I got a good load out of the race, before the real fatigue of a grand tour kicked in, the plan was to get out of there and go home.
“Unfortunately with the crash it probably came a little more prematurely than I was hoping but all in all I still feel I got a lot out of the race.”
In good news for the two-time Australian champion and those following his progress, things are looking good for the period to come.
“The sensations I was having on the bike, particularly on the stages I was targeting, were feeling really good,” Gerrans concluded. “I felt really competitive and back close to my best level.”
“I am really pleased with the load I got out of the race and, with the exception of the couple of sore spots I mentioned that should heal up in the next couple of days, the physical benefits I got out of the race will hopefully set me up for the next phase of the season.”