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 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

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 ever Australian to win the Tour de France, marked the end of his career finishing in fifth place among a elite pack of his WorldTour 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.”

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,” he said.

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.

Evans was part of a small group of eight leading riders who contested the finish, with Belgium’s Gianni Meersman (Etixx – Quick-Step) sprinting to victory ahead of Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin).

“It was incredibly aggressive racing,” said Evans. “I was happy the make front group at first. It was almost like riding a world championship.”