Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) became the first Australian to win the elite men’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Saturday in Geelong, Victoria. The victory was a redemption of sorts for McCarthy, as he finished second at the Australian national road championships a few weeks ago and then was unable to repeat his podium performance of a year ago at the Santos Tour Down Under.
Sprinting-ace Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) finished second, as a large chasing group caught the leaders right on the finish line. McCarthy had been part of a select group of nine that had attacked the last time up the key climb in the race, Challambra Crescent. Recent Santos Tour Down Under overall winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) finished third.
“Not easy for me this course,” Viviani said after the race. “I’m happy about my shape. Sometimes during the season I never finish in front of race like that one.”
So in January my shape is good.”
- 1. Jay Mccarthy, BORA – HANSGROHE, in 04:04:00
- 2. Elia Viviani, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:00
- 3. Daryl Impey, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 0:00
- 4. Dries Devenyns, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:00
- 5. Simon Gerrans, BMC RACING TEAM, at 0:00
- 6. Nikias Arndt, TEAM SUNWEB, at 0:00
- 7. Steele Von Hoff, AUSTRALIA, at 0:00
- 8. Maurits Lammertink, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 0:00
- 9. Enrico Battaglin, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 0:00
- 10. Lars Bak, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:00
The fourth edition of the elite men’s Cadel Evans Road Race was 164 kilometers in length and the past two winners, Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) and Peter Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe), were on the start line. As with the women’s edition, the men’s race started in Geelong and traversed a big loop along the coast before heading back into the city. However, once back in Geelong, the elite men faced three full 17-kilometer laps around the city and a total of four ascents up the difficult climb of Challambra Crescent (900 meters at 9.6%), which featured in the 2010 UCI World Road Championships. The riders also tackled the short climb of Queens Park Road, which came shortly after Challambra Crescent.
A five-rider breakaway escaped in the opening kilometers and quickly opened a gap of over six minutes. The leading riders were Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport), Alex Porter and Sam Welsford (KordMentha Real Estate), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha-Alpecin), and Robert De Greef (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij). Mitchelton-Scott did the bulk of the pacemaking in the peloton at the beginning of the race.
Entering the finishing circuit with 60 kilometers to go, the breakaway still held an advantage over five and a half minutes of on the peloton as they began Challambra Cresent for the first time. Hansen and Porter sprinted near the top of the climb, battling for the KOM points with the Aqua Blue Sport rider coming out on top. After the descent of Challambra, Kochetkov joined Porter and Hansen to make three in the front. Welsford and De Greef would never catch back on and be absorbed by the peloton.
When the peloton entered the finishing circuit, Lotto Soudal’s Thomas De Gendt and Sunweb’s Chad Haga had gone to the front to lead the chase of the leaders. Bora-Hansgrohe also began to have a strong presence at the front of the peloton with three riders helping in the chase.
The second time up Challambra Cresent, the leading trio rode steady and did not attack each other. Hansen went over the top in first position to solidify the victory in the King of the Mountains competition. Haga led the peloton over the top of the climb just over three minutes behind the leaders. The peloton was closing in quickly.
Porter crossed the finish line first to mark two laps to go and he also earned enough points to win the sprint competition for the race. After this, he dropped off the breakaway and returned to the peloton. This left just Hansen and Kochetkov in the lead, now inside the last 30 kilometers of the race. Their lead had shrunk to just over two minutes.
Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) accelerated at the front of the peloton on the penultimate climb of Challambra Crescent. His move did little to break the peloton, but it did string the riders into a single file line. The long peloton was just over a minute behind the two leaders at the top. Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott) hit the front on the climb of Queens Park Road and his effort put many riders on the limit.
Over the top of the Queens Park Road climb and heading toward the finish line, Sam Oomen (Sunweb) attacked and many riders jumped to bring him back. The fireworks of the finale of the race had begun to explode.
Tim Roe (KordMentha Real Estate) countered Oomen’s move and got a gap over the others. Roe was brought back by the time the peloton hit the finish line to begin the final lap. Hansen and Kocketkov were clinging to an advantage of about 30 seconds.
With just over 15 kilometers to go, the leading duo was caught and Mitchelton-Scott led the group toward the final ascent of Challambra Crescent.
The speed in the peloton was high approaching the climb and a crash occurred at the back of the greatly reduced bunch. The riders were single file and a touch of wheels appeared to be the cause of the crash. Mike Teunissen (Sunweb) and August Jensen (Israel Cycling Academy) were the riders that hit the deck. Both riders had noticeable road rash, but both would remount their bikes and finish the race.
LottoNL-Jumbo led the peloton onto Challambra Crescent for the final time in support of Robert Gesink and George Bennett. Soon the team in yellow and black faded off the front as former winner Kennaugh accelerated on the front in support of McCarthy.
At the top of the climb, a select group of nine had formed and it had loads of firepower. The LottoNL-Jumbo duo of Gesink and Bennett were there, as was Pierre LaTour (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors). Fast finishers Impey, Simon Gerrans (BMC Racing) and McCarthy had also made the split. Impey and McCarthy had the added benefit of having a teammate in the group, as Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) and Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) were also present. In all, nine riders formed the lead group with less than 10 kilometers remaining.
The lead group attacked and watched one another as they headed toward the finish line. Behind them, a large chase group was closing in and it contained Viviani, who was by far a faster finisher than any of the riders in the lead group.
With under three kilometers remaining, Chaves rolled off the front of the group and no one followed. The Colombian noticed this and put his head down. He powered along but never opened an advantage of more than 50 meters over the others.
Chaves was caught with 800 meters to go, as the chase group caught onto the back of the leaders. Devenyns opened up the sprint from a long way out and was soon passed by a charging McCarthy. Gerrans pulled alongside McCarthy, as Impey also came to the fore.
McCarthy would just barely take the victory, as Viviani came from far back to steal second and just miss the victory. Impey was forced to settle for third and Devenyns managed to hang on for fourth. Gerrans was reduced to fifth place on the day.
Full results to come