- In a thrilling finish to the line, young Kiwi superstar Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) pipped Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek) and Georg Zimmerman (Intermaché – Wanty) at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
- In what was a highly controlled race, there was a successful breakaway involving Team Bridgelane and ARA | Skip Capital. With enough riders to secure the Mapei Sprint Classification, the group worked together to establish a consistent time advantage and Team Bridgelane took the sprint jersey
- With the bunch controlled and the breakaway riding hard through Torquay and into Geelong, the Shimano King of the Mountain jersey quickly came up for grabs. Team Bridgelane collaborated and quickly dropped ARA | Skip Capital, having a fantastic day out with their all-Australian rising talent also clinching the three King of the Mountain classifications that were up for grabs
- This played well for the peloton as they were able to keep control of the race with the gap. Riders from top outfits such as Team Jayco AlUla, INEOS Grenadiers, Lidl-Trek, Team DSM-Firmenich Post NL and Groupama – FDJ began to bring their riders up to the front in the remaining two laps of the Geelong finishing circuit setting the tempo of the race
- The bunch sprung into action over the last 25km, splitting the race over the final climb of Challambra which ultimately weakened the likes of Caleb Ewan (Team Jayco AlUla) and Elia Viviani (INEOS Grenadiers)
- The last hard drive over the final climb was strong enough to take away 19 riders and set up the finale of racing, steering clear of the sprinters in the second group with Ewan and Viviani
- With three kilometres to go, the final attacks swung into action – Quinn Simmons (Lidl-Trek) lasted all the way to the finishing straight but was ultimately pulled back by the rest of the group
- From there it was a test of who had the best legs after four gruelling laps of Challambra, with top-notch young-international prospect Pithie claiming his first WorldTour top honour
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- Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ)
- Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek)
- Georg Zimmermann (Intermaché – Wanty)
- Corbin Strong (Israel – Premier Tech)
- Jhonnatan Narvaez Prado (INEOS Grenadiers)
Shimano King of the Mountain:
Zac Marriage (Team Bridgelane)
Mapei Sprint Classification:
Jackson Medway (Team Bridgelane)
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Q&A with Georg Zimmermann (Intermache-Wanty)
What was going through your head in those final stages?
The day started quite easy and got tougher with every lap, It was a little easier than I expected it and then the last two laps was quite fast. The bunch got smaller and smaller as we approached the bunch sprint. I was feeling good – I’d have to see the replay as third place feels a little bitter sweet as I had quite some momentum from behind. I’m happy with third place, but for me in felt like it could have been a better result.
On the run in, where you concerned that the race had run away early?
No I was confident. We had a great team and all under control. There wasn’t a moment I felt discomfort. We as a team and me personally had the race under control.
Q&A with Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek)
What were you thinking in the final straight?
It was a good win [coming second] for a small group. In the technical meeting, we planned for the race and I was in good shape. In the Tour Down Under, we weren’t happy with the result so it was a really good sprint here. It was a good second place for me.
Did you know when you crossed the line if you were first or second?
I knew he beat me. I waited for the result, but I knew he beat me.
How hard is it to come second when it’s so close?
I was thinking to start the sprint at 150 metres [to go] but went at 250 metres. In the line when we pushed together, I knew I was second. But it’s a great result for me and the team.
Q&A with Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ)
How different was today vs. the end of the Tour Down Under?
Yeah the Tour Down Under – I was super disappointed in the moment. Looking back on it, I think I road really well. I had to make a split second decision at the time on that first climb, and my decision was to attack. Looking back on it, maybe I should have waited. But that’s racing. Hindsight’s the best thing.
How are you feeling now?
Over the moon. After the finish line, i wasn’t too sure if I had it. We really had to wait for multiple confirmations but I’m super happy. I can’t believe it.
Can you talk us through the last few laps and your positioning on the climb?
The team kept me really well forward. I knew I had good legs and to stay across the front on the foot of the climb each time. You can always go into the red a little bit early by having to make up spaces. The team did a great job to keep me in front and I can’t thank them enough.
When did you think you could really get the win?
I was staying towards the front while those attacks were going. I knew I just had to be patient. I couldn’t be the one that closed them otherwise I wouldn’t have the legs for the sprint. I just had to wait. I got a little boxed in towards the end when everyone opened up towards the outside, but I managed to find a gap and work my way back.
Was there a moment you thought Quinn Simmons would stay to far away?
Yeah for sure. There weren’t many people riding, but luckily all the Israel [Premier-Tech] boys came from behind and instantly went to the front. They really backed in Corbin [Strong] and why wouldn’t you. He’s so quick, and a fellow Kiwi. I knew I just had to profit from there work and to stay patient.
You came so close so many times at the Tour Down Under – what does it mean to be walking away from the Australian summer with your first WorldTour win?
To finish like this – it’s a dream come true.
You look ahead to your first Giro – what will you be targeting in the race, stages or general classification?
For sure it’s stages for me. I’m not a general classification rider. The harder stages that end in a small group sprint like today – those are the one’s that will really suit me. I like to mix it up in the bunch sprints as well. I’m still learning and it’s a new role for me in the team this year – sprinting. I worked on my sprints over the winter and as you can see today, I’ve showed that I’ve got a bit more speed than I did last year.
You can climb, too!
My ability to get over some of those climbs has increased as well – which is really cool to see.
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