ruth winder

RACE PREVIEW: The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

This Saturday the Australian coastal town of Geelong will play host to the first round of the UCI Women’s World Tour. Dropping the starting flag on the 2020 series, The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is set to be an exciting race with crosswinds, climbs, and a fast finish all on the stem notes. With the additional incentive of claiming the decade’s first purple jersey, riders and teams will be incredibly motivated to bring home the win.

The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Now in its 6th year the CEGORR has cemented its status as an unpredictable and thrilling race. The parcours have a ‘European spring classics’ feel (minus the inclement weather) that will favour a versatile rider.

The 113km route sees the peloton head south from Geelong waterfront on relatively wide and open roads towards the Surf Coast. After passing through Barwon Heads the bunch follows the famously picturesque, but ‘blustery’ Great Ocean Road to the first intermediate sprint at Torquay. Riders will need their wits about them along this exposed stretch of the course as strong crosswinds could play havoc in the bunch.

After Bells Beach the race then loops back into town through rolling terrain. Just shy of 10km from the finish, the notorious Challambra Climb awaits. Measuring in at 1.8km with an average gradient of 7% as well as a vicious kick up of 17% towards the top, Challambra will undoubtedly decimate the field.

The final run in back to Geelong waterfront is fast although punctuated by a sharp, steep kicker with 6km to go. Riders will need to be tactically savvy to assess the race situation as groups of various sizes are often strewn across the road and games of cat and mouse usually take place at the head of affairs. The finish itself is a fast sprint but whether a solo rider, small breakaway or larger bunch battle it out for win is difficult to predict.

8 Riders to Watch

1) Amanda Spratt

Current Australian national champion, Amanda Spratt, has an impressive record of performances in races on home soil. Three times winner of the TdU, winner of the CEGORR in 2016 and third in last year’s edition, the 32 year old will certainly be in the mix. Expect to see her and her Mitchelton-Scott teammates animate the race and in particular light up the final 15km.

2) Lucy Kennedy

Spratt’s teammate, Lucy Kennedy, finished 2nd last year and will be looking to move up to the top step of the podium this year. The winner of the 2019 Herald Sun Tour, Kennedy, is a powerful climber who will be hoping that she can break away in the latter stages of the race and solo to victory along Geelong’s waterfront.

3) Ruth Winder

After her impressive win at the TdU 10 days ago, American national champion, Ruth Winder will certainly be a rider to look out for. The 26 year old Trek-Segafredo rider, showed great early season form to win the second stage in Stirling. With her strong climbing ability and fast finish, the parcours suit her well. Coupled with the strength of her team, Winder, will undoubtedly be in a good position to continue her winning ways.

4) Sierra Arlenis

Defending champion, Sierra Arlenis (Astana) showed shrewd tactics and determination to clinch victory last year and as a sprinter who can climb she’ll certainly be up there again in 2020. After being distanced on Challambra, the Cuban caught her rivals on the descent before attacking a select group at the head of the race with 6km to go. Arlenis then attacked again distancing herself from Lucy Kennedy, before soloing to the finish in a powerful display of skill and strength. Can she repeat the success of last year?

5) Brodie Chapman

After finishing 6th last year as well as taking the QoM jersey, Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) clearly has the climbing legs to seize the race on Challambra. That, coupled with the breakaway prowess we saw on the opening stage of the TdU this year means that she could pose a big threat in the final stages of the race. The winner of the 2019 Tour of the Gila, she knows how to win solo and undoubtedly she’ll be keen to attack the climbs hard.

6) Rachel Neylan

The winner of the first ever edition, Rachel Neylan (UniSA-Australia), has had 3 top 10 finishes in the past 5 years. The 37 year old from Sydney, will be hoping her experience and knowledge of the course will help her achieve another high placing.

7) Liane Lippert

Team Sunweb’s rising star Liane Lippert had an impressive start to the year taking the white jersey of the best young rider alongside finishing 2nd overall at the TdU. The German rider excels on punchy climbs so won’t be troubled by Challambra and with her confidence high she be looking to achieve a good result. Lining up alongside Leah Kirchmann and Juliette Labous (who could also feature at the pointy end of the action) she has a strong team around her. Lippert is also one of the leading favourites to don the first blue jersey of 2020 as the best world tour young rider so her motivation will be high.

8) Chloe Hosking

CEGORR is definitely not an out and out sprinters race, however, Hosking has proved that sprinter’s can still triumph in Geelong. Winner of the 2018 edition, Hosking will be looking to replicate this success in 2020. The Team Rally star has had a strong start to the year, winning the national criterium championships as well as the opening stage of the TdU. With her highest ever finishing position in a hilly nationals course, as well as 5th overall in the TdU, Hosking is clearly in good form. Her rivals would be wise not to discount her climbing ability, particularly on these punchy slopes and if things come back together they’ll find her very difficult to beat.

Summary

When: 1st February, 12:20pm (AEDT)

Where:

Geelong, Australia

What:

113km road race

Who to watch:

Amanda Spratt ****

Liane Lippert ****

Brodie Chapman ***

Ruth Winder ***

Top Outsider:

Rachel Neylan

TV Coverage:

Live across the 7 Network

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