It had to be Simon. He’s been there before and he’s back there again, on the cover of RIDE Cycling Review. The Australian champion. The winner of the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The quintessential professional.
Simon Gerrans was not the original choice for the front page of RIDE’s 64th edition but after his win in La Doyenne the decision was made to feature him for the third time. He was there when he won a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2008, and again when he won his second Tour Down Under title with what was, at the time, his new Australian team. He’s been on the back page a couple of times too, courtesy of the Shimano advertisements – when he won Milan-San Remo (2012) and again when he was the leader of the Tour de France (2013).
At the commencement of planning for an issue that we knew would be on sale while the Giro d’Italia was still being contested and for the duration of the Tour de France, the idea was to feature Alberto Contador. He’s one of the true favourites for the title of the 101st Tour, he’s back in fine form winning regularly early in 2014, and for all his accomplishments over the years, he’s never had a cover of his own. The Spaniard has featured in insets but the time seemed right to give him star billing. The fact that we also had a sensational photo from our ever-reliable photographer Yuzuru Sunada confirmed that we’d made the right choice.
The design had been done, cover lines decided and the commitment made… but then ‘Gerro’ won in Ans. And our plans changed.
It’s been said before on the cover but we’ve said it again: “An Australian First”. That’s what we wrote on the shot of Cadel Evans standing on the podium on the Champs-Elysées at the end of the 2011 Tour de France wearing the yellow jersey (RIDE #53).
But we’ve said it again: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège: An Australian First – Simon Gerrans”.
Just reading that line makes me swell with pride. He may be a big personality and a great bike rider but Simon Gerrans doesn’t covet attention. He accepts that, because of the nature of his job, people are interested in what he does. He is pleased that when he does his job well, it offers some people inspiration.
He’s the people’s champion. He has integrity, humility and is approachable and considerate. He tells it like it is no matter if “it” is good or bad. He ticks off items on his to-do list and gets on with getting on.
“Through various circumstances – and a couple that were really out of our control – I ended up having a really quiet start to the Spring this year which means I finished it off in my best condition,” he said after his historic win in the final ‘Monument’ of the European spring. “It has sort of put a bookend to that part of the season and now I’ll start focussing on the summer races after a short rest.”
On the evening of this victory, he flew from Belgium to his European base in Monaco and promptly put his feet up and acknowledged the feeling of contentment. The break wouldn’t be long, but it would be savoured. “Now it’s all about relaxing for a few days, both physically and mentally wind down a little bit, and then start a slow and steady progression towards July.”
He’ll be back in the news again when he returns to the Tour de France. In the meantime, there’s another Grand Tour to consider…
While Simon Gerrans was on his brief sabbatical from competition, his team-mates set off to a winning beginning in the Giro d’Italia. First place in the team time trial on day one, Svein Tuft – Canandian birthday boy – in the first maglia rosa of the 97th Giro… and there was much rejoicing. But the fight for pink didn’t end there, it lasted another week.
Michael Matthews inherited the overall lead in the Giro in the second stage. The sprinter from Orica-GreenEdge survived the chaos of the opening stanza of road races in Ireland, made the transfer to Italy and continued his pink trip around the south. How could we ignore ‘Bling’? He is a winner of two stages of his first Grand Tour (the Vuelta a España in 2013) and in his first taste of the Giro, he was the leader of GC up until the seventh stage… but also a winner in pink!
In stage six, he beat Tim Wellens and Cadel Evans to the line, threw a salute and savoured success will wearing the maglia rosa. Of course he should be on the cover of an Australian magazine… by then, however, the printed had begun. It was lucky then that we’d already made the commitment to include Matthews during one of his pink-clad podium celebrations.
The fact that Matthews lost the lead of GC (and eventually abandoned because of injuries sustained in a crash) hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Australian fans.
With Cadel Evans taking the lead for a third time his career, there is still plenty to cheer about. In 2002 and 2010, Evans led the Giro for just one day. He was third overall in 2013 and now, at the time of writing, he maintains an advantage of almost a minute on his nearest rival. Ideally, he too should be on the cover… but there’s not enough room for everyone.
As distribution for RIDE #64 begins, there’s even more good news. The return to racing for Mick Rogers was already reason enough for it to be the first feature in the issue… the fact that he won the 11th stage after a 23km solo effort is a reminder that he is more motivated than ever. In this issue, we speak with Rogers about his clenbuterol case, the training he did in Sicily while suspended, the inclusion of power data in TV coverage, and numerous other topics in an exclusive interview. The Giro d’Italia was meant to be a training race before his return to the Tour de France to assist Alberto Contador… but he’s a racer by instinct and the opportunity to win appeared. He seized it and reminded us that there’s a long list of talented riders queuing up for a place on the cover. ‘Dodger’ has featured on the front before, so too Evans… and one day Alberto will get his chance but for now it’s a green, gold… and pink front for #64.
We hope you like the magazine when you see it.
– By Rob Arnold