Come March, Simon Gerrans usually has a fair few race days in his legs and more often than not, a string of victories to his name.
Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

This time last year, Gerrans had won both the Australian National Championships and the Tour Down Under. This year, however, the Orica-GreenEDGE rider is yet to register a single race day owing to breaking his collarbone in December.

Next week the 34 year old will pin on a number for the first time since the UCI Road World Championships in September last year, making his racing return at the Italian one-day race Strade Bianche.

"I'm feeling good in training, and I can't wait to pin a number on again," a fully-recovered Gerrans wrote on his website.

"I might not have experience racing on the dirt or racing the Strade Bianche course, but I'm looking forward to testing my legs. I don't have huge expectations for a result, but I'm excited to race all the same."

With such a long break between races, Gerrans is hopeful that this enforced rest will pay dividends later in the season.

"This is the latest I have ever started my season, and this is by far the longest I've gone between races since I started cycling. For my first few races, I may be at a bit of a disadvantage due to a lack of race fitness. I will be lining up against guys that have done a few races already this year, and they'll obviously have more top-end fitness than myself. However as the season progresses and I do have a couple of races in my legs, I think the late start will work in my favour. It should enable me to be a lot fresher for my goals to come, particularly in the later parts of the season."

Instead of racing Paris-Nice and then opening his Classics campaign at Milan-San Remo, Gerrans will race Strade Bianche, GP Nobili, and then Volta Catalunya at the end of the month before taking a break before the Ardennes Races - Amstel Gold, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which he won last year.

"The reason I decided against my usual Paris-Nice programme is because throughout my entire career, I've struggled getting through the early Spring in good health. The plan last year was to race only half of Paris-Nice to get some racing in the legs and head home before I got sick. But even after going home midway through the race, I still came down ill off the back of it. The programme change was made even before I was injured in December."

The former Milan-San Remo winner says he needs to miss the race in order to be able to peak for the Ardennes.

"I won't have enough in my legs to be in great shape for San Remo and if I was trying to be in condition to win that race it wouldn't really set me up for the Ardennes," Gerrans told Cyclingnews.

"It would be too far away for me to try and carry that form all the way until April. It's just tricky timing wise. Back in 2012 I carried my January form into San Remo but then I felt like I was below par in April. Last year I got it right, having that rest and then coming up again for the Ardennes. It's tricky at this time of year because you have such an array of races that are spread out."

SBS will broadcast Paris-Nice the Spring Classics live.