In Simon Gerrans and Brett Lancaster, Australia was sure they'd have
two Aussies riding for the CervÃ©lo TestTeam at this year's Tour de
France (three if you include Heinrich Haussler), but it wasn't to be.
When the news broke that Gerrans missed the cut, there was a flurry of replies from Cycling Central readers
chastising CervÃ©lo management but most of all, lamenting the loss of
this popular, exciting, aggressive and future Spring Classics star, and
I can understand that Ã¢â¬â I felt the same way.
But when I spoke
with Lancaster following Friday's CervÃ©lo press conference in Monaco,
he told me there were three other guys who stood as much of a chance as
Gerrans had of going to this year's Tour de France, but then had to
take the bad news as late as he got it two Wednesdays ago.
longer believe the decision to exclude Gerrans had anything to do with
his training with Lance Armstrong in Colorado a few weeks ago; Gerrans
simply wanted to get out of town for a while, and Aspen was an ideal
environment to train in Ã¢â¬â he did it last year, too.
CervÃ©lo management and defending Tour champion Carlos Sastre, the chief
decision makers in the composition of the final nine riders, still
respect Gerro a great deal Ã¢â¬â it's just one of those unfortunate cases
where you have more in-form riders than you need, and therefore have to
make a very hard decision at the end of the day.
"For sure, it's a bit of a shame not to see Gerro here," Lancaster told me Friday.
competition was that strong to get in. I thought I would be going but I
still wasn't one-hundred percent. For Thor [Hushovd], being his
right-hand man and based on my form, of course I thought I'd be going.
It was totally up to the staff, the decision, and I was still waiting
[last] Wednesday to know what the team [composition] was.
was stressed for a couple of days and my wife said, 'What are you
worried about?' Of course, Carlos is captain, and we didn't know which
way he wanted to go with the team. I heard Gerrans missed out and I
felt really sorry for him, especially at the start here in Monaco
[where he lives during the season], just to sit here and watch it."
Lancaster added that Sastre brought a bunch of big guys Ã¢â¬â well, big by
cycling standards Ã¢â¬â because of the Montpellier team time trial on Stage
4, where the maximum three-minute deficit rule no longer applies; that
is, there is no upper limit on the amount of time lost. Sastre, a pure
climber by nature, can hold his own in the mountains. But in a
situation like the TTT, and over a difficult 39-kilometre hilly and
undulating parcours like the one they will face on Tuesday, July 7, the
Spaniard will need all the help he can get.
technical and pretty important, we'll be right up there, I think, right
up there," Lancaster predicted. "I'm a bit stressed and nervous about
it because there's a lot of pressure on us, but I come from a track
background and I love that kind of stuff."
When I spoke with
'Burt' as Lancaster's affectionately nicknamed, he let me know he had a
bit of a cold that just wouldn't go away. Hopefully though, he'll be
right as roses when Hushovd and Sastre need him most, even though Gerro
won't be his roomie this year.
"But I know Gerrans. He's a real
Aussie, he's a real goer Ã¢â¬â he'll bounce back. I'm sure he'll come out
and win a stage of the Vuelta, I'm sure of that," Lancaster said of his
At least he got told when he did. Spare a thought for
poor ol' Allan Davis of Quick Step, who found himself part of the teams
presentation Thursday evening, then was told Friday Ã¢â¬â just a day before
the start Ã¢â¬â a day! Ã¢â¬â he was no longer needed, with a court decision by
the French Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling Tom Boonen eligible to race. Now that's what I call unfair Ã¢â¬â what a way to be treated.