Gerrans eyes world championship

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    Simon Gerrans has the form, the tactical nous and a course to his liking in Sunday’s 267km men’s road race at the world titles in the Netherlands.

    But does he have the team to help him over the line?

    That is one of the lingering questions behind the 32-year-old’s tilt at becoming the fourth Australian in four years to make the podium in the blue-ribbon event.

    The nine-man Australian unit will be lacking in experience with seasoned campaigners such as Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers, Stuart O’Grady and Mathew Hayman all missing Sunday’s race for various reasons.

    The boss of Australia’s road team Matt White said handling the occasion would be a serious test for a team including four rookies.

    “I am confident we can get the job done but if there is a weakness in this line-up, it is experience in the closing stages of an event,” he said.

    Gerrans was confident his teammates were up to the task and that he could handle the pressure of being the team’s main man.

    “I tend to put a lot more pressure on myself than I think I receive from anybody outside,” he said.

    “It has not affected me too much, the focus leading into the world championships.

    “My results have given me confidence and I know I am able to be up with the best guys in the world and can beat them on my day.”

    The undulating course through the hilly Limburg region suits Gerrans with its 27 climbs during a gruelling six hours of racing.

    “It is a great course for Simon,” said White.

    Victorian Gerrans has flourished in Orica-GreenEdge’s debut season.

    He eased early-season nerves at the new outfit by collecting the national road race title and the Tour Down Under in January.

    Two months later he pulled off a surprise by winning the Milan-San Remo before easing off in preparation for his second half of the year.

    He showed this month that he was primed for the worlds with a win in Quebec.

    Not that he does not have tough opposition.

    Belgian star Philippe Gilbert will start as favourite with the likes of Gerrans and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan viewed as major threats.

    “Belgium is going to have a very strong team and they would be confident that if it is together at the bottom of the Cauberg (final hill) for the last time, it is going to be very hard for Gilbert to be beaten,” White said.

    Sagan was a sensation at this year’s Tour de France, collecting three stage wins and finishing with the sprinter’s green jersey.

    He does not have the strongest team around him but has the raw talent to overcome such shortcomings.

    © AAP 2014
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