• Simon Gerrans signs on for the final time at a World Tour race (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Multi-time Tour Down Under and Australian champion Simon Gerrans didn't seek the limelight as he drew the curtain on his WorldTour career, offering praise to fellow Aussie and former teammate Michael Matthews who duplicated his Canadian Grand Prix double over the weekend.
Aaron S. Lee

Cycling Central
11 Sep 2018 - 7:59 AM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2018 - 3:17 PM

Make no mistake, two-time Australian road race champion Simon Gerrans (BMC Racing) is not feeling the least bit nostalgic as he prepares to wrap his 16-year pro career at the close of the 2018 cycling season.

The 38-year-old Victorian announced his retirement last month in an open letter from BMC just following San Sebastian (1.UWT) last month.

The four-time Tour Down Under winner arguably enjoyed the best year of his career in 2014, when he not only won the TDU for a third time, but also Liège-Bastogne-Liège and both Canadian WorldTour Grand Prix races in the same season — a task just recently duplicated by fellow Aussie and former Orica-GreenEdge teammate Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) in Montréal on Sunday.

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“I'm not a nostalgic person,” Gerrans told Cycling Central after the completion of what is most probably the final WorldTour race of his career in Montréal. “I’ve had some great success here — firstly in 2012 and then obviously in 2014 — but I was looking forward to coming this year. We have a great group of guys.

“Greg [van Avermaet] is in great shape and has a really strong history of performances here, so I knew we were going to have a really good go and was really looking forward to it.”

Gerrans, who also won Milan-San Remo in 2012 to make him the only Australian to win two of the five monuments, may have finished 90th and 92nd in the two races held in Québec since Friday, but he was on the start to support his current teammate and reigning Olympic champion, van Avermaet, who finished second and third to give the Belgian seven podiums in the events’ nine-year history.

But with a palmarés adorned with 33 pro victories, don’t ask Gerrans to single just one out in a career that spans nearly two decades and is filled with many memorable moments.

"Looking back on my career, I’d like to say I was a rider that really got the most out of my abilities,” he explained. “I was meticulous in my preparation and I really enjoyed the racing and camaraderie that came with it — both when I was the key rider in the team but also when l was supporting other riders as well.

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“Obviously there has been some really memorable moments throughout my career, and each sort of race or success I’ve been a part of has been special at that point in time,” Gerrans continued. “It’s really difficult to look back over the course of my career and really pinpoint one victory above all the others."

However, Matthews was quick to acknowledge his achievement in becoming only the second rider to successfully sweep the double since ‘Gerro’ first did so four years ago.

"I still can't really believe it myself,” stated Matthews, who has struggled with a rollercoaster season filled with injury, illness and disappointment. “When I saw what Simon Gerrans did in 2014 I was at the Vuelta and it was something special for Cycling Australia to see an Aussie achieve what Simon achieved in these races.

"He had so many great wins, I always looked up to him. It was great to have him here in the race to witness what I did. It's also very special because I think it was his last WorldTour race today.”

The mention moved Gerrans, who praised Matthews and Sunweb for a job well done.

“It’s really nice compliments from Michael and we’ve seen a long time coming he’s a guy with enormous potential and he’s shown it here,” said Gerrans. “He’s raced superbly these last couple of races and he really earned the two victories. It’s a real credit to the way he’s racing and to his team.”

As for any thoughts on the recent omission of Matthews from the eight-man Australian roster slated to start the 2018 UCI Road World Championships later this month, Gerrans offered the following insights regarding the national team’s decision to deny the 2017 Tour de France points champion an opportunity to vie for a fourth straight top 4 Road Worlds result. 

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“Without knowing exactly the makeup of the team and what they are hoping to achieve with what riders at the world championships, it's really hard to comment why he’s not on the team,” said Gerrans. “Obviously he’s shown he’s in really good condition, but I think they are going with Richie [Porte] as a real focal point and guys that are probably more proven helpers to help Richie as the focal point of the team.

“Obviously Michael has had some fantastic success, but what he’s good at is winning bike races more so than being support rider, but at [27] years of age he still has many, many years of winning ahead of him.”

With an even brighter future still on the horizon for Matthews, a grateful Gerrans is happy to quietly ride off into the sunset with a keen sense personal fulfilment after a career respected and appreciated by both peers and fans alike.

“Honestly, the reason I announced it so late — it was the last thing I wanted,” admitted Gerrans. “I hate the fact that every time we turn up somewhere it’s about the ‘last time I am coming here' or ‘last time doing this race’. Really didn’t want this year to be the swan-song season.

"The idea of stopping at the end of this year has been quite a while coming and the reason I really made the call a couple of races ago is because I didn’t want it to be a nostalgic farewell.

“Initially I’m going to have some down time with my family, but I think what’s been nice is the comments that come from within the peloton, the guys I’ve raced with for many, many years,” he continued. “So many of them have congratulated me on my career and have said its been an honour to be a part of it, which is a really nice compliment.

“I’ve had great support all over the world, but particularly Australia where people have been extremely supportive of my career — for that I will be forever grateful."