Gerrans on his move to BMC Racing in 2018
It was getting late in Sydney but earlier in the day a press release appeared in the inbox. The subject header spelled out a new deal for one of Australia’s most accomplished cyclists. “BMC Racing Team Welcomes Simon Gerrans in 2018.”
Next year will be Gerrans’ 14th year in the top tier of the professional peloton. He has won two Monuments – Milan-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – as well as stages in each of the Grand Tours. He was runner-up in the world championships in 2014 but won’t contest the road race this coming Sunday.
The 37-year-old has been part of the GreenEdge line-up since the inception of the Australian WorldTour team in 2012 but he’ll move on in 2018 and join an America-registered team that’s had a long history with Australian riders.
BMC Racing’s general manager, Jim Ochowicz, is excited about the prospect of working with one of the most experienced Australian campaigners.
“There are not many riders out there with a palmarès and wealth of knowledge like Simon Gerrans,” said Ochowicz in the official team release.
“Simon’s experience in all aspects of the sport and his diverse skill set in multiple race situations will make him a tremendous asset to the team.”
Shortly after the release was issued, RIDE spoke with ‘Gerro’ about the new team deal.
Click the SoundCloud file to listen to the interview and/or read the transcript below.
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Click the SoundCloud file to hear the interview with Simon Gerrans from 21 September 2017.
Q&A Simon Gerrans (21 September 2017)
RIDE: Thanks for taking the time to have a chat Simon Gerrans.
Simon Gerrans: “You’re welcome, Rob Arnold.”
I’m just curious, while we’re starting that way, is it [pronounced]: ‘Jerrans’ or ‘Gerrans’. How do you say it?
“Gerrans. In French it’s one way, in Spanish it’s another way. And then back in Australia, I get it a couple of ways. Either works. I know who you’re talking to.”
It’s a topic we’ve never discussed but we’ve talked a lot about cycling and different things over the years. I remember many contracts that you’ve signed… and we’ve sort of seen them coming… but tonight you’ve been announced as being part of next year’s BMC roster. That’s caught everyone by surprise.
“Well, I think it’s nice to catch everyone by surprise every now and then… but this really hasn’t come about until very recently so it’s not like I was going to announce it while I was in discussions with certain teams.
“There were a few discussions going on but I didn’t want to announce anything until it was concrete. And, like I said, it’s only really come about of late so it’s nice to get it out there.”
It’s an interesting time for Australian cycling and it feels odd that I’m not talking about you being part of the world championship team but I understand you didn’t put your hand up for that, is that right?
“Yeah, that’s right. Just with the racing program that I’ve had, particularly in the back half of this season, I saw it as far from an ideal preparation for a race like the world titles.
“I always want to go into a world championships event in the best of condition.
“It’s a real honour to wear the green and gold colours so with the program I had, I wasn’t going to be in top shape for a race like the worlds – so I didn’t put myself forward for selection this year.”
BMC announced the signing of Simon Gerrans for the 2018 season on 21 September 2017.
I’d love to talk about [the worlds] but let’s, at first, cover the BMC contract – that’s new and it’s very exciting. We’ll talk worlds soon, if that’s okay.
BMC. How long is the term? And was it a long time in brokering or did it just sort of come about with Allan Peiper? Who made contact?
“Obviously, I’m quite good mates with Richie [Porte]. I’ve had quite a lot of contact throughout the year anyway.
“It was actually Richie who first brought it up as an idea.
“I think he spoke to the powers to be within BMC and it came about that way. The next thing you know, we put the agents in touch and all that sort of thing – and that’s how the contract came about.
“The opportunity to race with Richie and, obviously, with a team like BMC was one that was too good to refuse. I’m really happy that it has all come together.”
You’re 37 at the moment. You’ve conquered in cycling. You’ve won Classics – Monuments, in fact – and worn the yellow jersey and achieved all sorts of things. How long do you see yourself going?
“I’m just taking it year by year at this stage… and I think [I’ve done that] for the last couple of years.
“Obviously with this new environment, new challenges, I’m hoping that that will really spike my interest to continue for several more years in the sport.”
You’re leaving a team that also sees the end of the ‘Dan Jones Reign’ [as producer of the Back Stage Pass series]. You were there for the duration of that start-up. Did you enjoy that experience? And what did you think when you saw the end of Dan Jones with Orica-GreenEdge?
“It was great having ‘Jonesy’ in the team. He was just like a mate, another colleague in the team. He was obviously a really close liaison with all of the riders and all the personnel as well. And I think he’ll be greatly missed not only within the team but by the fans of Orica-Scott.
“He was the guy that really brought the personalities of the team out. He had a unique way of finding a bit of bogan in everybody and I think he’ll be dearly missed.”
Gerrans was the silver medallist in the road race of the 2014 world championships…
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
And your feelings about moving on from the original Australian WorldTour team?
“I’m excited about this new challenge. As I said, I think the opportunity to work alongside the likes of Richie, Rohan [Dennis], Miles [Scotson] and [high performance manager] Allan Peiper and Phoebe [Haymes, the PR officer] as well – within the personnel of the team – is going to be great.
“The last couple of years with GreenEdge haven’t gone as well as I would have liked.
It was becoming pretty obvious it was time for a change and I think this is the right move to make.”
You’ve had a prosperous career. We could go on for a long time, Simon, if we talked about reflecting but it’s a formidable line-up for the [Australian team at the world championships]. Can I ask you for a few comments about what you expect to see play out on Sunday in Norway?
“I’m actually really excited to watch the race, to see how the race will unfold on Sunday.
“Being talked about as not such a selective circuit this year, it often makes for a much more aggressive race – which I think will be great…
“There are some guys who are coming in with red-hot form, the likes of [Matteo] Trentin for example. I think it will be a really exciting race.
“And how it will pan out? I think the weather will potentially have a big influence on the way the race unfolds and who it will suit.
“If we get a really cold, wet day up in Norway, Tim Wellens will be hard to beat.
“I expect to see my current team-mate, Michael Albasini, up there and really competitive.
“It’s a race that’s really actually wide open, I think.
“It’s always exciting, like I said, to race for Australia. I will miss pulling on the Australian jersey on the weekend and I hope to be able to do that again at some point in the future.”
How will you watch? Just with the family?
“Yeah, probably with the family or via all the social media outlets as well.”
Do you enjoy watching something that you’ve often been a major player in?
“Yeah, very much so… I obviously much prefer to be out there and competing but I’m a big fan of the sport so I always enjoy watching the racing – whenever it’s on TV, I’ll be in front of the tellie.”
– Interview by Rob Arnold