Gerrans' win puts him second on the UCI WorldTour individual rankings, on 264 points, behind Alberto Contador (308) and ahead of Alejandro Valverde (262).

Gerrans delays return, will miss Volta a Catalunya but should be back for Pais Vasco

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Still recovering from a fracture sustained in the Strade Bianche, Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans has been forced to delay his return to competition.

The Australian had a consulation on Thursday and as a result of that meeting, has decided that he isn’t ready to line out in next week’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, as had been planned.

“I had my elbow fracture checked by a specialist today and unfortunately my recovery isn’t to a point where I’m able to ride on the road,” he said. “So I will need to skip the Volta Catalunya.

“For the moment I will continue to do a lot of work on the home trainer and will hopefully get back out on the road in the near future.

“At this stage, my next race is set to be Tour of the Basque Country in a couple of weeks time.”

The delay is an additional complication for Gerrans’ ambition of successfully defending his Liège-Bastogne-Liège title. It is unclear whether he will have sufficient time to get into the kind of shape necessary to challenge, or if he will instead have to pin his hopes on later events.

“It’s still too early to rule out the second part of the Classics,” he said. “We’ll make a decision on my schedule once I am back racing.”

The past couple of months have been complicated for the 34 year old. He crashed during the off season and needed to undergo surgery. Strade Bianche was Gerrans’ first race of the year but he ran into problems again, hitting the deck and fracturing his elbow.

Sport director Matt White said it was crucial to be patient rather than rush things.

“The most important thing right now is Simon’s recovery,” he said. “Once he’s able to race, we’ll see how we can best manage his program going onwards.

“The fact that he might already be on the road in a couple of weeks is still very good progress, but it’s not the time of year where you can jump into the biggest races and expect to be in with a winning chance.”

White said that he is satisfied with the rider’s fitness, but also knows that he needs to be at a high standard.

“His condition is definitely good, but he needs races to really be competitive at his highest level,” he explained. “So we’ll evaluate and potentially redefine his next goals once he’s back on the road.

“He’s the type of rider who can target and win most races, so it’s more a question of what to aim at once he’s back.”

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