Simon Gerrans refuses to wait just one second

Two stages for the price of one in this update, because, you know, it was Saturday yesterday and I simply couldn’t be bothered. I hadn’t actually intended to go ‘stage by stage’ for the Tour Down Under, but a little early season excitement seemed to lead me down that path. Until yesterday.

Stage five

If you’re 5’7″ and Australian, why not ride the Tour Down Under? You’ll probably get a stage win. Richie Porte followed the template laid down by Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans earlier in the week by crossing the line first atop Willunga Hill. He didn’t get a big enough gap to get in amongst his fellow cork-hatted munchkins, however. He took 10 seconds and a 10-second bonus and moved up to fourth.

Simon Gerrans needed eight seconds to regain the race lead from Cadel Evans and gained precisely that through making a four-second gap right at the finish and then getting a four-second bonus for finishing third. Diego Ulissi was second and stayed third overall.

Stage six

Greipel wins. Take that, pedals!

Again, Andre Greipel beat Marcel Kittel before the actual sprint. The speed was high in the closing kilometres and Kittel couldn’t stay far enough up the bunch to compete.

In the overall, we were reminded that one second is a comfortable lead by Simon Gerrans’ standards. He won the 2012 Tour Down Under by no seconds thanks to better finishing positions than second-placed Alejandro Valverde, and sure enough, he held his lead to win this year’s race. Cadel Evans came second. Diego Ulissi came third.

So what of Gerrans then?

Former Tour-winner, Evans, we know very well. We also see plenty of Porte in the Grand Tours. You might therefore be wondering where Simon Gerrans fits into things and why he isn’t more prominent in the three-week races.

It’s basically the mountains. Even the longer climbs of the Tour Down Under take no longer than 10 minutes to scale and that’s a different kind of effort. It tends to demand a more intense effort that cannot be maintained for the duration of an Alpine pass.

It’s not like Gerrans is bad at longer, steadier efforts; it’s just that he excels at the shorter ones. That’s how he wins races and that’s not how you win Grand Tours. The two big races he typically targets are Milan-San Remo in March and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April. He won the former in 2012 and tends to be somewhere around the top ten in the latter.

What’s next?

A ruddy great gap, that’s what. The Tour of Oman will probably feature a few big names – that starts on the 18th of February; the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks the unofficial start of spring classics season on the 1st of March; but the next race on the World Tour is actually Paris-Nice from the 9th of March. Paris-Nice also overlaps with another World Tour race – its Italian cousin, Tirreno-Adriatico.

I’ll do some stuff before then though – maybe a bit of groundwork for the Tour; that kind of thing.