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Gerrans turns back cycling clock

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Simon Gerrans’ outstanding Tour Down Under suggests the Australian cycling star is turning back the clock to the greatest season of his career.

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The Orica-GreenEDGE leader safely finished 11th in Sunday’s final stage to preserve his nine-second overall lead and win the Tour for a fourth time.

He also won in 2006, 2012 and 2014 – no other rider has won the Adelaide race more than twice.

Rising star Caleb Ewan capped a perfect week for the Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team when he won Sunday’s 90km street race.

He and Gerrans won two stages apiece.

It was a great week for Australian cycling, with Orica-GreenEDGE taking out three of the five race categories and compatriots Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) and Richie Porte (BMC) the other stage winners.

But the main story of the week was Gerrans putting 2015’s horror run of luck behind him.

Gerrans’ 2014 Tour win was the start of his career-best year that featured winning the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic for the first time.

“For Simon to get back to the level we saw him at in 2014 is obviously going to be a big boost to his season,” said Orica-GreenEDGE director Matt White.

Asked if he thought Gerrans really was back to that level, White replied: “For what we’ve seen this week, it looks that way.

“It’s a very, very similar situation.

“It’s a great sign.”

Gerrans’ main goals this year will be another tilt at the Ardennes one-day classics in April, including Liege-Bastogne-Liege, then the July Tour de France and potentially the Rio Olympics.

He missed last year’s Tour with a broken collarbone from a mountain bike accident, and it was the start of a series of crashes that cruelled his year.

Gerrans also crashed at the end of stage two, which McCarthy won to give him the overall lead for a day.

He then roared back to form by winning stages two and three – the first rider in six years to win successive stages at the Tour – and also take the overall lead.

Gerrans held onto the ochre leader’s jersey as Porte improved to second overall with his barnstorming stage-five win at Willunga.

McCarthy finished fourth overall at 20 seconds in a breakout week for the 23-year-old.

Asked if he felt the last week had banished 2015’s woes, Gerrans replied: “It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

“Looking back, in 2014 I had such a fantastic year and in 2015, nothing seemed to go right.

“We’re back on the right track for 2016 already and I really couldn’t have asked for a much better way to kick off the season.”

Ewan bookended the Tour for the team by winning the first and last stages.

He also won the one-off street race a week ago that starts the Tour Down Under week.

The Tour represented an ideal start to the year for Orica-GreenEDGE.

“Clearly, we were the most motivated, well-prepared (team) and we really wanted it more than anyone else,” White said.

– AAP

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