Q&A With Simon Gerrans on Volta Catalunya Stage 5

Sat 23 Mar 2013

After two days in the mountains, it was a day for the sprinters at Volta a Catalunya. François Parisien (Argos-Shimano) stole the show with his fast dash to the line in Lleida. Although the team missed out in the sprint, they successfully protected Christian Meier’s points jerseys and TDF 100 Sprint jersey. Meier has held onto both jerseys since earning them on stage one.

Simon Gerrans was a late addition to the team’s Volta a Catalunya squad. He raised his hand for the Catalan Tour after recognising he required additional racing ahead of the important Ardennes Classics. Simon answers questions about stage five here.

Q: What was the team’s approach to the day?

The plan was pretty much to back it up for a sprint finish. There aren’t many flat days in Catalunya, and this was one of them. We knew a break would go, and we wanted to make sure that none of the teams with riders up for the sprint went into the breakaway. We didn’t want to be in a position where we were forced to do all of the chase work.

Q: Did the early action unfold according to plan?

Yeah, it did. We paid close attention at the start of the race to ensure that only the right break would be go away. Oliver Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol) and Tristan Valentin (COF) went away at the 50 kilometre mark. It was perfect for us. [Omega Pharma -] Quick-Step was the first team to come to the front to set tempo. We helped, too, heading into the final along with Ag2r La Mondiale and Cannondale. We reeled the two guys back in without too many complications with 15 kilometres to go.

Q: The team looked to be up there preparing for the sprint, but we didn’t have anyone in the top ten. What happened there?

Coming into the sprint, the plan was get Sam [Bewley] and Brett [Lancaster] as close to the front at the finish as possible with the idea that Sam would lead out Brett. That worked really well for us on stage two when we put Brett up for third. The finish was super technical, and we needed to be on the front much earlier than we realized. We didn’t have enough info on the final to know that. In the end, we were playing catch-up. We did the sprint, but we didn’t have the result we wanted.

[Note: Brett Lancaster was the top-placed ORICA-GreenEDGE rider in 12th place.]

Q: All your teammates have mentioned that one of the team’s objectives at Volta Catalunya is ensuring you come out of the week better prepared for the Ardennes. How has the week gone for you in that regard?

This has been a great race for me. I put my hand up because I knew I needed more racing, but I was a little unsure how the week would go. I’m really happy to be here. It’s good, solid racing, and I feel like I’m progressing every day. It was hard to come here straight from Milan-Sanremo, but it was the right choice. I’ve really improved my form. Hopefully I’ll come out of the week going really well.

Q: The other big goal that has been repeatedly tossed around is a stage win – do you think the team can accomplish that over the next two days?

We actively went for a stage win on the first two days and again today. It obviously hasn’t happened yet. The flatter days were for the sprinters, and we looked to Brett, who isn’t our usual guy for the sprint. He’s been up there and had a good finish in Banyole earlier in the week.

These next two days are quite selective. They won’t be for the sprinters. I’m hoping that I’ll be up there to mix it up with the puncheurs.