Gerrans might try a great Tour escape
By Roger Vaughan
18:57 AEST Thu Jul 12 2012

After the flat stages of week one and the tough Alpine climbs, Simon Gerrans is in his territory.

Stage 12 of the Tour de France is ideal for a breakaway specialist such as the Australian, one of three Orica-GreenEDGE riders who have licence to make speculative attacks.

Along with Swiss Michael Albasini and Dutch rider Pieter Weening, Gerrans will try to position himself in the right move and then work like hell to make it stick.

Friday's 226km stage from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux in south-eastern France is the longest of this year's Tour.

It features two category-one climbs in the first 80km, where the peloton could split and a small breakaway can steal a march on any chasing riders.

Provided there are no general classification contenders in the attack, the main field will be more inclined to let the escapees go.

But Gerrans, who won a Tour stage in 2008, knows better than most that it will not be easy.

"Basically from here on, there's quite a few opportunities for the breakaways," he said.

"And the days that we see that aren't going to be a real 'GC' (general classification) battle towards the end of the stages or a sprint stage, guys like myself ... will be looking for opportunities to go up the road and try and snag a stage.

"It's such a lottery, actually, to get in these breakaways that go to the finish.

"So on the days you think the break is going to go, you've just got to put it out there and keep trying to get in that move.

"If you just lay it all on one day and you don't get that right breakaway, you miss that move - it's obviously a huge disappointment."

Gerrans has already enjoyed a great season, winning the Australian road title, the Tour Down Under, and Milan-Sanremo.

His arm was tangled in a barbed-wire fence when he crashed during stage three, but Gerrans has recovered well.

Gerrans tried to join the decisive attack on stage 10 that took Frenchman Thomas Voeckler to the stage win.

He simply could not go with the move after leading out fellow Australian Matt Goss for the intermediate sprint.

"I tried to hang on as long as I could, I was already probably suffering a little bit from the effort to lead out the sprint, but I would have been there if I had the legs," Gerrans said.

"That wasn't a choice, not to be there."

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