Gerrans grabs the best win of GreenEDGE’s short history

Tim Renowden Columnist

By Tim Renowden, Tim Renowden is a Roar Expert

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    GreenEDGE riders (AAP Image/Kathy Watt)

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    Simon Gerrans’ perfectly-executed attack and sprint to victory at Milan-San Remo on Sunday is by far the best performance his GreenEDGE team has produced in its short life.

    Just last week I wrote in my column here that GreenEDGE needed to do more to show it was capable of mixing it with the big boys.

    How sweet it is to be proved wrong!

    Gerrans’ finish-line ambush on Fabian Cancellara capped off a perfectly-executed attack made with just over 7km remaining in the 298km race.

    The decisive move was begun with 10km to go by the Italian Liquigas-Cannondale team, sending Valerio Agnoli on a solo attack near the base of the final climb, the Poggio. Liquigas held multiple cards to play, with Vicenzo Nibali in excellent form a few days after his victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, and Peter Sagan ready to contest a bunch sprint if it eventuated.

    With 7.5km remaining, as the chase group of 30 riders swept Agnoli up, Nibali launched a vicious attack with Gerrans tight in his slipstream. The Australian champion had clearly anticipated the move: his first brilliant tactical decision of the day.

    Of the remaining chasers, only ‘Spartacus’ Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek) had the power to follow, and the three had opened a slender gap of a few seconds as they began the descent to the finish.

    Cancellara’s enormous power drove the three leaders most of the final 6.6km to the line, an effort which may have cost him victory. However, past form suggests that Gerrans was always going to be the fastest of the three in a sprint, and he played to his strength: brilliant tactical decision number two.

    No sympathy for Cancellara. This is the prisoner’s dilemma so often seen in cycling: do you do the hard work to stay clear of a chasing peloton, or sit in the slipstream and hope the other guy is feeling generous or desperate?

    Cancellara’s (formidable) reputation dictates that in a small breakaway he’s almost always going to be the guy pedalling at the front. He is both the best man for the job, and far too dangerous to help out unless it’s absolutely necessary.

    Nibali and Gerrans had the advantage of a sprinter team-mate in the chase group (Sagan and Matt Goss respectively) and were hardly going to tow Spartacus to the finish. That’s racing.

    All Gerrans had to do was hold onto Cancellara’s back wheel (admittedly not easy) on the descent and hope his legs had enough to get him over the line. The tactics were perfect, the execution flawless, and Gerrans raised his arms to claim what is easily the best victory for his young team.

    And with that, I humbly and joyfully admit that my impatience last week was misplaced. GreenEDGE has its first victory in one of cycling’s monuments, in scintillating style.

    To see what this means to the team, watch the exuberant wrap-up video posted on the team’s YouTube channel. The confidence that flows from this win will be enormous. It is hugely significant.

    Well done to the GreenEDGE team, and well done to Simon Gerrans. You bloody ripper!

    Tim Renowden
    Tim Renowden

    Tim Renowden has been following professional cycling closely since Indurain won his first Tour. An ex-runner, now a club grade bike racer, Tim tweets about sport at @megabicicleta.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Columnist

      March 20th 2012 @ 7:47am
      Tim Renowden said | March 20th 2012 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Albasini’s win in Catalunya overnight shows the confidence has indeed flowed to other members of GreenEDGE. Excellent!

    • March 20th 2012 @ 9:30am
      Jonty said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Greenedge Backstage Pass: MSR

      • Columnist

        March 20th 2012 @ 11:17am
        Tim Renowden said | March 20th 2012 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        How good is that?!

        • March 22nd 2012 @ 11:50am
          Jonty said | March 22nd 2012 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          Win win win! Win win w.YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS (Beep)(Beep)(Beep)(Beep)(Beep)(Beep)(Beep)WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Beep) (Beep)(Beep)

          Great stuff.

    • March 20th 2012 @ 10:25am
      goodis said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      It was fantastic viewing (albeit late!). Well done to Gerrans and the team, they played it perfectly. And Albasini last night. All of a sudden they’re on fire! What’s Bobridge doing at the moment? Is he a chance to get on the road anytime soon or is he focused entirely on the track? Would love to see him developing on the road alongside Meyer.

      • Columnist

        March 20th 2012 @ 10:31am
        Tim Renowden said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        I think Bobridge is in track mode until the Worlds in a couple of weeks, and probably until the Olympics. Agreed, he is super exciting.

    • March 20th 2012 @ 12:07pm
      Justin Curran said | March 20th 2012 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

      Congratulations Simon Gerrans and Greenedge! How exciting for all of us Australian cycling fans, and how good is that backstage Greenedge video! It’s a pity that some of the mainstream media has failed to acknowledge such a significant win. Also Liquigas seem to be a real force this year with Nibali and Sagan already excelling. Will we see more of them this year Tim?

      • Columnist

        March 20th 2012 @ 1:43pm
        Tim Renowden said | March 20th 2012 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

        Yep – Liquigas were a little unlucky here (some may be a bit less kind and suggest they stuffed up their tactics) but they’ve got plenty of options when it comes to winning races.

        What about BMC? As far as I can see they are still without a victory this year.

        • March 20th 2012 @ 4:48pm
          Justin Curran said | March 20th 2012 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

          Maybe they were so impressed with all their superstar signings that they went into cruise control over the off season and are getting caught out. Their time trial at Tirreno-adriatico was quite woeful, and Evans and Gilbert seem like shadows of their former selves. Admittedly it is early in the year, but I would imagine that excuse will wear out pretty quickly if that star studded roster doesn’t start to deliver.

    • March 20th 2012 @ 7:55pm
      liquor box said | March 20th 2012 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see how Gerrans goes in the TDF stages 8 and 10 seem to have similar finishes with a hill and then a downhill end to the stage.This does not include his chances at a mountain top win, after the tour down under he has shown he can get close to a win on the top of a hill with a sprint.

      Does anyone know if he can TimeTrial?

      • March 21st 2012 @ 12:54pm
        DanMan said | March 21st 2012 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        Average TT – Gerrans is mostly an allrounder.

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