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Test Well Taken at De Brabantse Pijl

16·04·14

De Brabantse Pijl served as one last test leading into the Ardennes. The course here is very similar to an Amstel Gold type course with quite a lot of short explosive climbs, technical bits, small roundabouts and lots of sharp corners. It’s a great way to do a very specific hit out before the bigger goal on Sunday. Being in the final few days leading up to Amstel, it’s a great way to test the condition.

We wanted to win today, and we brought a team that was capable of accomplishing that objective. We had quite a few options in the final. The team brought half of its Amstel team here in myself, Daryl Impey, Michael Matthews and Pieter Weening. It was expected that the four of us would be competitive in the finish circuit. The four that aren’t doing Amstel were asked to do the early work while the four of us that are racing on Sunday were waiting for the final to make our impact. It was up to Daryl, Michael, Pieter and myself to be really active on the finish circuit.

This team plan suited me well because I was hoping to stay pretty easy in the bunch for as long as possible and then have a really good hit out on the finish circuit to test my legs, which was exactly was I was able to do today. It was my personal ambition to use the race as one last good hit out to hopefully bring me up just a little more before Sunday.

We were happy with the composition of the early break as there were no WorldTour teams represented. Our guys started to ride as soon as the break had an advantage of 5 minutes, and we were soon joined by BMC.

In the past few years, this race has been won from a break on the finish circuit, but when I attacked with just under 50km to go, with the break still a minute ahead of the bunch, I didn’t think I was putting myself in the winning move. My intention was to take the pressure off my teammates – Daryl and Michael in particular – and to have a good hard race in preparation for Sunday.

When we started the final lap, our break still had a bit of an advantage on the peloton. That’s when I thought that maybe we would stay away to the finish, however the break stopped working together and we were swept up by the peloton just inside the final ten kilometres.

My chance to win the race was basically gone once the break was caught, but we still had Michael and Daryl in good condition. I wanted to do my bit to help those two out in the finish, so I neutralised any break attempts and made sure they were both well-placed in the final few kilometres for the run in towards the finish. Michael ended up second in the sprint behind Philippe Gilbert (BMC).

As a team, I think we can say we rode really well together. Half of our team here is very experienced, and the other half is still learning in these sort of races. Everyone rode well together, and everyone did the job they were asked to do. At the end of the day, to finish second with Michael is a pretty good result.

I’m really happy with my condition at the moment leading into Amstel. Although it’s been a turbulent spring for me with sickness and a few minor setbacks, the final phase of my preparation for the Ardennes has gone really well. I’ve put the runs on the board at Amstel in the past, so I’m probably going to be the guy the teams looks to get a result on Sunday. I am looking forward to the race and I feel that I am up for the challenge.

Simon.

2014 Fleche Brabanconne GW

La Flèche Brabançonne – De Brabantse Pijl Preview

15·04·14

Simon will take the start line tomorrow in the 54th edition of la Flèche Brabançonne, also known as De Brabantse Pijl.

A personal story about the race…

“One of my best memories from when I was racing my first year as a professional back in 2005 was at la Flèche Brabançonne. Most of the riders were lined up on the start line and I was about to join them when my gears stopped working so I quickly turned around and rode straight back to the team mechanic so see what the issue was. There was a problem with my lever so in a panic we started to swap my race number and bidons across to my spare bike to use it for the race. All of a sudden this guy come out of the crowd surrounding the riders and started helping out. I thought to myself that this was a bit funny but then I looked up and saw it was Eddy Merckx. He noticed that we were in a bit of a rush and that I needed to get to the start so he wanted to help out. He grabbed a set of allen keys and started to move my race number across to my spare bike. No sooner had we taken everything off my race bike and put it on to my spare bike, our mechanic fixed the issue on my race bike. Eddy said straight away “well he can’t ride his spare bike then, he needs to get back on his race bike”. So with Eddy’s help we then transferred everything back across to my race bike and Eddy pushed me off just in time to roll out with the peloton. I thought that was pretty cool as a first year pro to have the biggest legend in cycling help me out”, said Simon.

La Flèche Brabançonne will mark Simon’s final preparation before the Ardennes Classics, which will commence with Amstel Gold Race on Sunday 20th April, and conclude the following Sunday with Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“Amstel is a big objective of mine, so with Flèche Brabançonne being the final race prior to Sunday, it will be a great opportunity to see where my condition is at and test my legs”, said Gerrans.

“My last couple of weeks have gone really well. I am happy with how I came out of the Basque Country and since then I have done a couple of good days training”.

“Flèche Brabançonne will be my last hit out before Amstel, and with the last couple of weeks pretty much going to plan, I am excited for this final phase of my preparation”, added Gerrans.

ORICA-GreenEDGE sport director Laurenzo Lapage highlights la Flèche Barbançonne as a solid, nervous race with a hard finish circuit that serves as a transition between the racing in the north of Belgium and the Ardennes Classics.

“With the team we start with, we have big ambitions. We’re thinking about the races that come after this one. It’s the perfect race to set the tone for our upcoming objectives”, said Lapage.

The riders will cover 203.1 km departing Leuven at 12:36pm CET and will finish in the town of Aankomst around 5:20pm CET.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for la Flèche Brabançonne – De Brabantse Pijl:
Adam Yates (UK), Cameron Meyer (AUS), Daryl Impey (RSA), Damien Howson (AUS), Michael Matthews (AUS), Pieter Weening (NED), Simon Gerrans (AUS), and Simon Yates (UK).

For more information on the race, please visit the official race website here.

Vuelta a Pais Vasco Preview

06·04·14

The Vuelta a Pais Vasco kicks off tomorrow with a hard 153.4km stage around Ordizia. Simon won the first stage here last year and with the team taking victory in today’s Vuelta a Rioja with Michael Matthews, the pressure will be on for another result.

“I have great memories from Pais Vasco last year after winning the first stage and then having the lead. We also claimed a second stage with Daryl and Pieter did a good result on GC, so we have a lot of work to do this week to try and match that”, said Simon.

The Vuelta a Pais Vasco is seen to be an important hit out for preparation leading into the Ardennes Classics, and Simon sees this race as a good test of form.

“It will be nice to get a result this week however it is not critical as far as the Ardennes go. Often riders who are not seen at the front at the Tour of the Basque Country come out and perform really well at the Ardennes. In saying that, getting a result is always good for the confidence before a big objective. There are a couple of opportunities in the first few days of the race to try to go for a result”, added Simon.

STAGE INFORMATION:

Stage 1: Monday, 7 April. Ordizia to Ordizia. 153.4 km.
Stage 2: Tuesday, 8 April. Ordizia to Dantxarinea (Urdazubi). 155.8 km.
Stage 3: Wednesday, 9 April. Urdazubi-Urdax to Vitoria-Gasteiz. 194.5 km.
Stage 4: Thursday, 10 April. Vitoria-Gasteiz to Arrate (Eibar). 151 km.
Stage 5: Friday, 11 April. Eibar to Markina-Xemein. 160,2 km.
Stage 6: Saturday, 12 April. Markina-Xemein to Markina-Xemein. 25.9 km.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Vuelta a Pais Vasco:

Michael Albasini (SUI), Christian Meier (CAN), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Michael Matthews (AUS), Simon Yates (UK), Pieter Weening (NED), Adam Yates (UK) and
Esteban Chaves (COL).

For more information on the race, please visit the official race website here.

_T5X0836.JPG Simon winning stage one at the 2013 Vuelta a Pais Vasco. Image with thanks to Graham Watson.

Vuelta la Rioja Review

06·04·14

It was great to get a win today with Michael Matthews at the Vuelta la Rioja. With the race being a non World Tour event, we did not have race radios. As one of the more experiences riders in the team I took on the role of road captain. With Pays Basque starting tomorrow, for most of the team racing Rioja, it was important that we won the race in the most efficient way possible. We wanted to conserve as much energy as possible before what will be a really tough week of racing ahead.

Damien Howson did the majority of work throughout the stage and then received some help from Christian Meier and Simon Yates for the final 40km. Pieter Weening and I contributed in the last 20km to ensure the break got brought back, saving Michael Albasini and Brett Lancaster to help Matthews with the sprint.

Everyone fulfilled their role perfectly today and it was great that Michael finished off the good teamwork with the win. It was also ORICA-GreenEDGE’s first win in Europe for the 2014 season so we were pretty happy.

Personally my feelings in the race were not too bad however I could definitely feel the lack of racing in my legs. I punctured with 8km to go and there was no chance to get back on so I was disappointed to not be there to assist with the lead out.

Simon.

OGE 2.jpg

Image with thanks to Graham Watson.

 

 

Vuelta la Rioja Race Preview

05·04·14

After a 24-hour illness that sidelined him from participating in Milan-San Remo, Simon has recovered and will return to racing this weekend at the Vuelta la Rioja.

The one day race will cover 164.7 km and this will be Simon’s first participation.

“It’s been a little while since I last raced. I was disappointed to miss out on racing Milan-San Remo so I am very much looking forward to pinning my number on again”, said Simon.

“I have felt good in training over the past week so it will be good to test my condition over the next few days”.

“Rioja is a smaller race that is likely to be a bunch sprint. The team will be working for Michael Matthews and it will be a good opportunity for me to get a little race rhythm back in my legs before we start the Basque Country”, said Simon.

“It’s (Vuelta la Rioja) a return to racing for a lot of riders. They need to get back into race rhythm on Sunday without going too deep. We’re looking for a result based around Michael Matthews. We’ll support him but also keep in mind that the main objective is the Basque Country, which starts the next day”, added director sportif Neil Stephens.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for the Vuelta la Rioja:
Michael Albasini (SUI), Christian Meier (CAN), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Michael Matthews (AUS), Simon Yates (UK), Pieter Weening (NED), Brett Lancaster (AUS) and Damien Howson (AUS).

For more information on the race, please visit the official race website here.

Milan-San Remo Preview

21·03·14

After withdrawing from Paris-Nice at the conclusion of stage five due to allergies, Simon is now feeling good and is ready to race Milan-San Remo this Sunday.

The 105th edition of the race has had some drastic course changes over the past couple of months. The planned course, which was originally suited to an all-rounder, is now the same course of pre-2008, which traditionally has proven to be a race for the sprinters.

Possible late showers are forecasted for Sunday, and if the rain comes in then the descents of the Cipressa and Poggio could become extremely difficult to negotiate.

“A wet Milan-San Remo won’t impact the race too much at the start, but if it’s wet when they get down to the coast, it will have a big effect on how the race unfolds”, said ORICA-GreenEDGE sport director Matt White. “The riders can only go so fast along the coast as they whiz through those small towns before there are crashes. Rain will bring a lot of guys back in the race as the race will be a lot slower”, added White.

The 2014 edition will be Simon’s 3rd start in la Primavera and with it brings some fantastic memories of his victory in 2012.

“It’s always special racing in one of the five monuments of the sport, but competing in a race as a previous winner, well that makes it even more special. I have some fantastic memories from my victory at Milan-San Remo in 2012”, said Simon.

“It is highly likely that a group of sprinters will contest the final, so I am quite realistic of my chances of winning. However, if the scenario eventuates where a group sneaks off the front, then I hope to be there to try my luck”.

“I feel my form has been improving over the past couple of weeks and although I have had some allergy issues during my preparation, I hope to be close to top shape on Sunday”.

“I’m really fortunate that San Remo is 40 km from my home, so I take the opportunity to train over the final kilometres of the race whenever possible”, added Simon.

“If a scenario does come about that big moves go on the Poggio, we’ve got Simon Gerrans for that and Michael (Matthews) showed that he’s in very good condition at Paris-Nice to handle the sprint, if that’s what the scenario involves,” said Matt White.

The race will depart Milan at 10:10am European time on Sunday for the 294 km race to San Remo.

For more information on the race including television and online coverage, please visit the official race website here.

Australian viewers will be able to watch the race live from midnight to 3:30am AEST on SBS 2 or live stream online here.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Milan-San Remo:
Daryl Impey (RSA), Jens Keukeleire (BEL), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Mathew Hayman (AUS), Michael Matthews (AUS), Simon Clarke (AUS), Simon Gerrans (AUS) and Svein Tuft (CAN).

 

Simon Heads Home Following Paris-Nice Stage Five

14·03·14

I withdrew from Paris-Nice yesterday following the completion of stage five. This year, I used Paris-Nice as an important part of my building phase in the lead up to Milan-San Remo. As planned I didn’t arrive in Paris for the start of the race in top condition. My goal has always been to improve my form throughout the race where the workload during Paris-Nice would help me get stronger and closer to my peak condition.

To a certain extent, I can build form in training, but there really is no better way to build form than to race. The best way to get a large amount of volume and intensity is in a stage race. Paris-Nice is one of the hardest stage races on the calendar, so it was an ideal way to achieve this goal.

Paris-Nice is a race where I have issues with my health. As the race descends France, the weather warms up and the pollen count increases. This really effects my asthma and allergies. A big part of my decision to leave the race early this year was to hopefully quit the race before getting sick.

I head home feeling as if I accomplished my objectives. I was able to push myself a little bit harder each day, and I definitely feel I improved over the course of the race. I did my best to contribute to the teams objective to win a stage. We rode for a bunch sprint to give our team sprinters an opportunity and we were close a couple of times with Gossy placing second on stage three and Matthews forth on stage four.

Yesterday, my allergies continued to get worse although I was feeling much stronger on the bike. My exit comes at the perfect time. I feel I did the right number of days to ensure I got a good workload but not too many days to need a long period of recovery because of the allergy issue.

I am now back at home and where I will finalise my preparation for Milan-San Remo. For the remainder of this week, I will have a couple of easy days to freshen up again and make sure my health is 100%. Then early next week I’ll do some specific training before resting again to make sure I’m ready to go come Sunday.

I am really looking forward to the next block of racing coming up. I have some big one day races on my program and they are the races that I enjoy the most. It’s easy to be excited about this next phase of the season.

Simon.

2014 Paris-Nice Stage 5 GW

Paris-Nice stage 2 post race chat with Simon Yates

10·03·14

Paris-Nice Preview

08·03·14

WorldTour racing resumes tomorrow with the start of the 72nd edition of Paris-Nice. The peloton will race 1,447 km, which is the longest distance covered since the Race to the Sun was reduced from nine days to the current format of eight days.

Race organizers have decided not to feature an individual time trial in the 2014 edition, which is a first since 1955. This decision, along with the elimination of any big mountain top finishes, changes the dynamics of the race to now favour more of an all rounder.

Simon will be participating in his 7th edition of Paris-Nice with his best performances including second place on stage 3 in 2012 behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and 15th overall in 2010.

“This is a really exciting Paris-Nice parcours. If I were to target an overall performance in an edition of Paris-Nice then this would have been a great course for me. However the objective is to take the race day by day and to really build my condition for Milan – San Remo”, said Gerrans.

“Off the back of an extended break from racing, and a short spell of sickness a couple of weeks ago, personally I don’t have huge expectations for results. I hope to be able to provide some valuable support to my teammates with the goal of winning a stage”, added Gerrans.

ORICA-GreenEDGE will field a strong team capable of winning from many scenarios.

“The main objective of Paris-Nice this year is to win a couple of stages,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “Basically, we’re going to support Gossy on the flat, flat stages and Bling when there is a little uphill finish.” “Gerro, Alba and Keukeleire are our three guys for the hillier stages,” added McPartland. “They can get in moves from further out. They are our puncheurs. From a break, we will back them for the stage win.”

Rounding out the ORICA-GreenEDGE roster will be road captain Mathew Hayman, Mitch Docker and neo-pro Simon Yates.

STAGE INFORMATION:

Stage 1: Sunday 9 March – 162.5 km Mantes-la-Jolie – Mantes-la-Jolie
Stage 2: Monday 10 March – 205 km Rambouillet – Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche
Stage 3: Tuesday 11 March – 180 km Toucy – Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
Stage 4: Wednesday 12 March – 201.5 km Nevers – Belleville
Stage 5: Thursday 13 March – 153 km Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours -Rive-de-Gier
Stage 6: Friday 14 March – 221.5 km Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon – Fayence
Stage 7: Saturday 15 March – 195.5 km Mougins – Biot Sophia Antipolis
Stage 8: Sunday 16 March – 128 km Nice – Nice

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Paris – Nice:
Jens Keukeleire (BEL), Matthew Goss (AUS), Mathew Hayman (AUS), Michael Albasini (SUI), Michael Matthews (AUS), Mitch Docker (AUS), Simon Gerrans (AUS), and Simon Yates (UK)

For more information on the race including television and online coverage, please visit the official race website here.

GP Città di Camaiore review

07·03·14

I was really happy with how the race went yesterday at the GP Camaiore. My goal for the race was to basically find my racing legs again after having a fairly long break since the Herald Sun Tour. I also wanted to take the opportunity to test out some new equipment and clothing under race conditions and I saw my first race in Europe as a great opportunity to do this.

The race started at a really fast past with the peloton averaging nearly 60 km/hr for the first 20 km of the race. This was certainly a shock to the system. Once the race settled down and the break was established, I actually started to feel quite good and was able to help out our team leaders for the day. Both Simon (Clarke) and Ivan had a good race with Simon making the winning move and eventually placing 4th.

I raced on the Scott Addict for the first time in hilly conditions and I was very impressed with how the bike felt. It’s a light bike and with the Shimano C50 wheels, I had it just above the legal weight at 6.82 kg. I also used for the first time the Craft road racing skin suit and our Scott aero helmet, which I will definitely use more in the future.

Overall I really found the GP Camaiore to be a great race and really beneficial to my preparation for the spring classics.

Simon.