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Simon Gerrans and Paddy Bevin are setting the pace of the chase. On any other team, they would likely be considering the stage win in Quimper but today they are working for others – Richie Porte and Greg Van Avermaet.
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If the route for today’s stage was presented five years ago, one name would have been thrown into the mix when making predictions for who might take the win would be Simon Gerrans. The uphill finale is one that suits his strengths. But in 2018 it’s a different scenario for the former Australian champion. He isn’t chasing any personal glory, instead he is working for the team alongside his Kiwi and Swiss team-mates Paddy Bevin and Michael Schär.
‘Gerro’ and Bevin have been at the front of the peloton punching out the pace for the chase. Of course there are escapees up ahead and of course the team of the yellow jersey is taking charge of the bunch. In 2018, Simon Gerrans is happy to do the work for others, rather than sit back in the slipstream trying to conserve energy on the approach to the critical moment of the race.
“I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some incredible highs at the tour de France but I’ve also had some seriously bad luck as well,” Gerrans said before the start of the 2018 Tour. “My first time lining up in road captain role is a great challenge and one that I’m really excited about too.”
While compatriot, Allan Peiper, and Italian DS Fabio Baldato are dictating the approach of the BMC Racing team at the Tour in 2018, Gerrans is calling the shots from the saddle.
“I can draw on all of my experiences from the teams I’ve been with and the previous Tours de France that I’ve done and I’ll try and put that into good use here,” he said about the role of Road Captain.
“The primary goal of this year, obviously – it’s been said time and time again – is to the GC objective with Richie and everything else will play a far second place to that.”
If he didn’t have Richie and the current race leader on his team, it’s possible that Gerrans would still have the punch required to get up the climb at the finish in Quimper and have an impact but he’s not chasing personal glory in 2018 – rather, it’s all for the team.
“Things would have had to go terribly wrong in the first part of the race for me to be given the green light to go for my own opportunities,” he said when asked if he might be able to go on the hunt for a stage win of his own. “So,” he concluded, “let’s hope that’s not the case.”
Van Avermaet is exactly the kind of rider who could take the win today and, after last night’s defeat in the World Cup, Belgian sports fans will be looking to the Tour to see if GVA can give them something to smile about again.
Gerrans, Bevin and their cohort are doing much of the work at the front and, with 100km still to go, we wait to see if the yellow jersey is in the mix for the stage win.
There are a host of others with similar strengths to Gerrans and Van Avermaet who are within a time bonus or two of the yellow jersey and the riders to watch the most today are Geraint Thomas (ranked 3rd), Philippe Gilbert (4th), Julian Alaphilippe (5th), Bob Jungels (6th), and Tom Dumoulin (7th).
Ordinarily, we’d also see Michael Matthews in the hunt but he’s abandoned the Tour this morning.
Of course, the other big chance for the stage win is Peter Sagan, the winner of stage two and a former yellow jersey holder.