Gerrans will enter his career 11th Tour as Orica-GreenEdge’s most experienced rider and all being well has outlined aspirations for the proceeding Olympic elite men’s road race on August 6.
“It’s still very much an objective to go to Rio,” Gerrans said. “If the race unfolds in a certain way, and I come off the Tour de France well, I think I can go for a result. Alternatively, I think I can be a great help to somebody else.”
The 36-year-old embarked on a whirlwind trip to Rio in May with Cycling Australia elite men’s road director Brad McGee to inspect the 256.4km course, which compatriot Richie Porte (BMC) also has designs on. Porte was meant to join the pair in Rio but was forced to withdraw through illness. The Tasmanian, who will co-captain BMC at the Tour in a career first maillot jaune bid, rode Liege-Bastogne-Liege, of a similar distance, earlier this season effectively as an Olympic test event.
“I was only there for 48 hours but it was good,” Gerrans said. “We saw everything we needed to in that period of time. We got a good look at the course, a good feel of what it is going to be like there and it looks pretty demanding. It was well worth the look.”
The former Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion has forecast a race of attrition for Olympic gold and on a course that has attracted the attention of puncheurs like himself as well as marquee climbers including Briton Chris Froome.
“The course is so demanding I think it’s nearly going to turn into a race of attrition and if that’s the case then, yeah, it could suit me quite well,” Gerrans said. “It depends how it’s raced.
“The climb on the finish circuit looks pretty tough so you’re going to have to be able to go uphill pretty well to get to the finish in the front.”
That climb on the second circuit of the race features an 8.9km ascent, which tops out at about 11 per cent, and 6km descent that the peloton will tackle three times before a flat, 20km run to the finish line in Parc Flamengo. The course features 10 categorised climbs over two circuits in total.
Gerrans will start the 103rd edition of the Tour de France from Saturday on the back of the Criterium du Dauphine and a stint at altitude. Orica-GreenEdge has outlined it is vying for stage wins at the race it has selected a mix of puncheurs and climbers for.
Cycling Australia is yet to announce its road and track squads for the Rio Olympics.