- Eritrean superstar, Binam Girmay (Intermaché Wanty) put his sprinting prowess on show today, storming to the finish line to take out the inaugural Surf Coast Classic title
- In a bunch sprint to the finish, Girmay closely pipped race-favourite and 2019 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road winner, Elia Viviani (INEOS Grenadiers) and young Kiwi gun, Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech)
- Following a point-to-point format, the men followed a 158km course which took them from the magic of the Otways to a spectacular ocean backdrop, thundering along from Lorne to Torquay
- After a small crash during the first 10km which featured a challenging climb towards Dean Marsh, a breakaway quickly formed with the likes of EF Education-Easy Post, Team Bridgelane and ARA | Skip Capital keen to get their riders up the road
- The bunch quickly settled once they got over the climb, giving the breakaway about a one minute and 30-second gap with 148km remaining
- The break neutralised its attacks on the bunch, setting up the perfect day for the teams with strong sprinting ambitions
- Those teams, such as Team Jayco AlUla sent their riders up to the front of the peloton, keeping the pace high and break under control, minimising any risk of an attack
- With about 110km remaining, the bunch began to run down the gap to the breakaway from two minutes 30 seconds to about 40 seconds
- The breakaway of five was quickly turned to three after ARA | Skip Capital and Team Bridgelane riders were dropped with 15km to go, returning to the bunch
- Despite their best efforts, the final three riders were caught with 4km to go and teams acted quicly to set their sprinters up to race to the finish line
- Launching in the final 200 metres, Viviani saw his chance but Girmay acted quickly and found the wheel of Viviani in the final 50 metres to take top honours
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- Biniam Girmay (Intermaché Wanty)
- Elia Viviani (INEOS Grenadiers)
- Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Teach)
- Milan Fretin (Cofidis)
- Laurence Pithie (Groupama – FDJ)
@eliaviviani just loves racing in Victoria.
— Cadel Road Race (@CadelRoadRace) January 25, 2024
Q&A from Binam Girmay (Intermaché Wanty)
Congratulations – that was an epic finish. What was going through your head coming around the roundabout at the end?
“Today, when I found myself in the last 600 metres in fifth position, I’m just thinking to cross the line first because I felt super good. My team did such a good job and it was a fast sprint so I was a bit afraid of Viviani because he’s also fast. In the end, I had good legs today.”
What was the initial strategy, and did you have to adapt in the race?
“After Tour Down Under, I felt super good. So I said to the team we need to control as much we can. We need to be smart and find the better wheel. We did a good job, my team did perfect until the end and we’re happy to have this victory.”
How challenging was that final five kilometres? What was your mindset?
“The main thing we talk about is that last five kilometres. We need to be on the right wheel as we don’t have the big guys to chase from the front. I think we managed really well to stay in the perfect position, and in the last part we moved up. We didn’t have a special strategy – but I think we managed quite well.”
In that final one kilometre, did you think you were going to win?
“It’s not easy to say but now I can say [I won]. For sure, after that last corner, in my mind I’m just thinking that today’s my day.”
Is it now a bit of a rest up until Sunday?
“I hope Sunday we can do better than today. It’s going to be a hard day with the circuit but I think we have a team to control the race. We need to do the same tactic as today. We need to control the race but it’ll be harder on Sunday.”
Q&A from Elia Viviani (INEOS Grenadiers)
It was a good day out. I’m disappointed. When you lose on the line in the last 50 metres, I’m not happy about that. I’m doing the sprint to win. The guys did an amazing job and I wanted to pay off the job done. I just see the final 200 metres and I know it’s a sprint so I play my chance, then the last 50 metres I see the wheels of Girmay and he pips me on the line. Second place, I’m not satisfied with that. I hope to be there [first] on Sunday. If I need to lose today, to win on Sunday – that’s ok.What can you take away from today in order to help you go one further on Sunday?
I think we can be happy of the team effort. Not many times I can enjoy a lead out like that and I’m really happy with what my guys did today. Happy with the performance of the team.
What does the next couple of days look like for you, ahead of Sunday?
We’ll do another day block of training tomorrow on the Cadel Evans course. We’ll do a bit of recon and test out the legs. Then a really easy Saturday recovery to be fresh for Sunday. We’ve got a few options for Sunday, so it’s not all on my shoulders.
Q&A from Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech)
Exciting finish – how did you find it?
“The boys nailed the run. We knew that roundabout in the final kilometre to go was crucial. The race would be won or lost there so the boys just did a really good job. Not the best race suited for me, a pure bunch sprint, but we knew if we could nail the run in then we’d be a chance. We did everything right – maybe I lost one too many positions on that last corner. But pretty happy to manage a podium today.”
How did you find the inaugural Surf Coast Classic and the course?
“Well, driving to the start was amazing. I really enjoyed the road along the coast, and I enjoy a harder start so it was nice to start up hill and it all went reasonably to plan for everyone. It there was 5km p/h wind more it could have been a really interesting day but the wind was just too light and I think everyone accepted it was going to be a mass brunch sprint today. The race went as expected.”
What do the next two days look like for you and for Sunday?
“Sunday is one we’re really targeting. We’ve got a super strong team here. Everyone’s in really good shape and we’ve got a number of cards to play.”