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The courses, which return unchanged in 2018, are designed by former professional cyclist Scott Sunderland, in consultation with Cadel Evans. Created with the time of season and stage of teams’ preparation in mind, it is a challenging and authentic one-day course that allows an attacking style of race, synonymous with the European ‘Spring Classics’ and provides a number of race scenarios. Along with its beautiful scenery, a feature of the Elite Men’s course is three laps of the Geelong circuit, which closely follows the 2010 UCI Road World Championship course.
With some of Victoria’s most spectacular coastal scenery as its backdrop, the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Races travel through the most beautiful and iconic areas of the Bellarine Peninsula, and encompass some of Cadel’s favourite riding routes.
Elite Men: 174km
Deakin University Elite Women: 113km
* The 2018 course is subject to change.
Enjoying the picturesque backdrop of Geelong’s Waterfront, teams will prepare and officially sign on for racing under the watchful eye of their fans in Steampacket Gardens.
In controlled race conditions, the peloton will then set out from Eastern Beach Road and Hearne Parade heading south-east through Geelong.
Once in Boundary Road, the flag drops and racing begins. Keep an eye out for a few riders with itchy feet looking to establish an early break as they head out of Geelong via Barwon Heads Road.
The hometown of Cadel Evans, Barwon Heads, holds the first spectator live site as the peloton flies down the main street in pursuit of bonus points and prizes at the day’s first intermediate sprint.
Travelling through Barwon Heads, the race hugs the coast at Thirteenth Beach and cyclists must navigate and position themselves against the local coastal winds for the first time.
If it hasn’t already, directional changes on the roads behind Torquay provide the perfect opportunity for a breakaway to move away from the peloton as the race moves into the Surf Coast.
Then, a long straight stretch across the marshes of Blackgate Road, Breamlee, expose the riders to the elements, and wind again plays a factor in shaping the early action.
Next, the race begins to close in on busy Torquay, a haven for locals and a much-loved escape for Melbournians and visitors from around the world.
The many families, swimmers and surfers gathering around the busy beaches in Torquay will pause to watch the colourful peloton charge into the second intermediate sprint and past the second of the family-friendly spectator live sites.
Through the main street, the race then finds itself on the famous Great Ocean Road.
Riders make a turn towards Bells Beach, home of the annual Rip Curl Pro. The rolling hills toward the coast are the first real challenge for the riders and a chance to test out the legs.
The riders will begin to get a sense of how they are travelling and consider plan B if their leader is beginning to tire. The first King of the Mountain and Queen of the Mountain points are on offer as they climb their way across to Bells Beach.
The action begins to heat up now. Briefly re-joining the Great Ocean Road, the race takes a turn north and heads along bushy Forest Road, a taste of the Australian bushland. Through Moriac and then historic Ceres, the race now approaches the City of Geelong.
The Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s courses will slightly differ from this point.
For the women, the approach into Geelong sparks the frantic final 15km. While for the men, it signals an arrival onto the finishing circuits, but with a gruelling 60.6km still to travel.
Descending down Scenic Road, the peloton will touch speeds of nearly 85kmph into Queens Park.
The course has a pinch as it climbs its way out of Queens Park and up the road of the same name. A left turn and a further pinch up Melville Avenue, the race then turns left onto Aberdeen Street for a long fast descent down Deviation.
The final climb of each circuit takes place up Hyland Road, the last chance for an opportunist to sneak away before the finish. The race travels through residential Geelong, past the Victorian houses along Church Street, over the Highway and onto the Geelong waterfront.
From here the race winds itself up the for the finish of the women’s race, while the men will get their first look at what the finale will look like in three laps time.
Back to where it all began, the finish, adjacent to Steampacket Gardens on Geelong’s Waterfront, is a fast one.
But first, for the men, it will signal three laps to go. Climbing up Yarra Street away from the waterfront they continue.
When they reach Skilled Stadium, the course resembles that of the 2010 UCI Road World Championships, with a descent down Moorabool Street and across the river, then a right turn and a cruise along Barrabool Road past the reserve.
The climb up to Highton via Barwon Boulevard and Challambra Crescent is a crowd favourite, and also evokes memories of thousands upon thousands lining the course during the 2010 Road Worlds become all too real.
The circuits then continue as they re-join the descent down Scenic Road. The circuits will get faster and faster. The average speed for lap one is expected at around 42kmph and by the last, nearly touching 50kmph.