Arguably the greatest Australian road cyclist in history, Barwon Heads’ Cadel Evans AM (BMC) has closed out his historic career with an inspired performance at the inaugural UCI 1.1 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Approximately 75,000 spectators turned out to see the 115-strong field of international and Australian riders race through Geelong, Evans’ home town of Barwon Heads and Torquay, a fantastic result for an event only in its first year.
Evans, the first Australian to ever win the Tour de France, marked the end of his career finishing in fifth place among a pack of his World Tour colleagues. “To end one phase of my life and to begin another, it is just fantastic,” said Evans post race. “I have dedicated my life to this sport, I discovered the passion for cycling as a 14 year old in the ‘90s and I have been a full time professional for 20 years.
“For me it is all about giving back to the sport that has given me so much over the years. I am forever grateful for this sport and anyone who ever supported me along this journey,” said Evans.
Evans was candid about his plans for day one of retirement. “I think I am going to go for a little ride, and then I promised my boy I am going to take him fishing.” Cycling Australia was pleased to recognise Evans’ outstanding career, presenting the cycling pioneer with a book signed with thousands of messages and signatures from fans.
HOW THE RACE UNFOLDED
115 riders started the wet 174 kilometre road race which took riders around the scenic course, including Geelong, the picturesque Great Ocean Road and Bellarine Peninsula.
Earlier in the race, Port Fairy’s Darcy Woolley (African Wildlife Safaris), Josh Taylor (Charter Mason), Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli), Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) formed a breakaway before Brodie Talbot (Budget Forklifts) bridged. The break gained a four and a half minute advantage before Didier fell and was forced to withdraw at the 60 kilometre mark.
With 80 kilometres left to race, a change in wind direction and pressure from Cannondale-Garmin caused the peloton to split, catching Evans out before a concerted chase from Evans saw the two front groups re-form. As the riders descended onto the Geelong foreshore to cross the finish line for the first of four times, Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) tried his luck off the front before being reeled in on the run out of town.
Almost immediately a counter attack ensued from Jack Bower (Cannondale-Garmin) and Maxime Bouet (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Darren Lapthorne (Drapac Profressional Cycling) before Western Australia’s Robert Power joined. Calvin Watson (Trek Factory Racing), Alex Clements (Jayco-AIS U23 Team) and Patrick Shaw (Avanti-Racing) joined the leaders with 30 kilometres remaining. However it wasn’t to be for the young break, with the pace of the peloton on the smaller loops around Geelong proving too much before the final selection formed 15 kilometres later.
Tasmania’s Clements was awarded the Mapei young rider jersey, Meersman took home the Medibank sprint competition while teammate Maxime Bouet (Etixx – Quick-Step) was awarded the Subaru King of the Mountain. BMC claimed the teams classification.