Simon Gerrans believes the return to the tried and tested route of old for the 2014 Cycling Australia National Championship Road Race around Mount Buninyong is the right choice, after an experimental alteration to the race route for 2013.
All championship races should be about the strongest guy on the day fighting for the win, not the luckiest.
Gerrans, who won the event in 2012, on a course not dissimilar to that which will feature next January, backed the decision of the race organisation in what he says gives the best overall chance for the strongest rider to be rewarded.
“You can never say with certainty how a course change will affect the racing,” said Gerrans to Cycling Central. "Predicting how the race will unfold tactically, that’s the ‘green and gold’ question. But my first thought is (the change) makes the race more selective.”
The race route, though shorter for the men at 183km, now includes 18 summits of the iconic Mount Buninyong, and notably omits the controversial extended loops which last year served to neutralise racing once the break of the day got away. Gerrans says that the scenario would be far less likely with the traditional course, far less tactically dictated.
“The great thing about the (basic) course is that there’s never much of a disadvantage or advantage, you’re not having to work that much harder whether you’re in the break or the bunch,” said Gerrans.
“Buninyong is hard. Of course, It’s always an advantage to have a team, no question about that, but you’re at less of a disadvantage on a circuit like the one we’ve got if you’re going well. The classic example is someone like Matt Lloyd. He’s been up there fighting for the win so many times, and he’s very rarely there with any team-mates.”
The more selective the course, the less advantage the likes of Orica-GreenEDGE or for that matter a similarly well-represented Drapac Professional Cycling will have, and despite that hurting Gerrans, the Australian says he’s more comfortable with that, than any sort of alternative.
“That’s why I like the idea of the race being more selective, it takes the luck out of it, and personally I think that all championship races should be about the strongest guy on the day fighting for the win, not the luckiest.”
That might be the 33 year old himself who says he's carrying good form ahead of the season opener.
"I’m in a good position to be going well in January, because I finished 2013 a little earlier than I might’ve liked, and I’ll have a few more k's in my legs than I would normally have, and hopefully that translates into some good form for January," said Gerrans, before adding that bigger objectives later in the year, like the Ardennes, dictated he wouldn't be at 100 per cent.
Gerrans also interestingly pointed to Garmin-Sharp, and not Drapac as the biggest threat to an Orica-GreenEDGE three-peat in 2014, who despite their limited numbers, are well-suited to the tough Buninyong course.
“In the past we’ve seen a pretty strong Garmin team, and that’ll be no different this year. There’s a lot of good young Aussie guys in Garmin now, and they're getting better ever year. I expect them to be in great shape in January. Then there’s the domestic-based teams, it’s going to be a dynamic race.”