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Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road RacePreview

January 30, 2020
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Preview

The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (or just “Cadel’s” for short) is the second one-day event on the 2020 UCI WorldTour, with the first taking place just a few days prior in the newly announced Race Torquay. This weekends race is the sixth edition and if previous outings are anything to go by, it’s sure to be an intriguing contest between the GC battlers, sprinters, and puncheurs of the peloton. So without further ado, we take you through what you need to know about the race, including details about the course, the riders to watch, and how it might pan out.

The Courses

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The course for the 2020 men’s Cadel’s Race remains unchanged from last year. Starting and finishing in the Victorian city of Geelong, the race covers 164km and features two distinct sections.

The first is a long coastal loop that takes the riders out to Barwon Heads (Cadel Evans’ Australian home town) before heading down the coast through Torquay and Bells Beach before swinging inland, north, then east back towards Geelong. After roughly 105km, the course reaches its second and final phase: nearly four laps around a finishing circuit in Geelong.

This 17km finishing circuit is modelled on the loop used in the 2010 Road World Championships road race and features the same main climb: Challambra Crescent (1km at 10%). There’s another climb on the circuit too — Queens Park Road/Melville Avenue, which is a deceptively short, yet steep (in excess of 10% it's midpoint) — after which it’s a 6km mainly flat and downhill approach to the finish line on the Geelong waterfront.

Given the riders enter the circuit just before Challambra Crescent, they’ll tackle that technical ascent four times in the final 64km. Likewise with Queens Park Road/Melville Avenue.

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Women's Course

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The course for Saturday’s Women's Elite race is the same as the one that was used last year, a 113.3km loop that starts and finishes in the Victorian city of Geelong. From Geelong, the riders head south-east towards Barwon Heads before following the same lumpy route down the coast through Torquay and Bells Beach.

The race concludes with a partial lap of the circuit used in the men’s race; a course derived from the circuit used in the 2010 Road World Championships road race. Two climbs define this closing part-circuit: the brutally steep Challambra Crescent (1km at 10%) and the easier-but-still-not-easy Queens Park Rd/Melville Ave combination (which includes a 20% ramp).

How It Might Play Out

We can learn a lot about how the races might unfold just by looking at previous editions. Of the five races held so far, four have been won from a reduced bunch and one was won solo. A reduced bunch sprint seems the most likely outcome again this year, but a solo winner or small group sprint is also a possibility.

As these past results suggest, it’s a very selective course. The opening 105km shouldn’t trouble too many riders but the finishing circuits around Geelong are another story. Expect the pace to increase each time around the circuit, with more and more riders dropping out of contention in the process.

There’s likely to be a breakaway that gets clear early and that gets swept up near the start of the finishing circuit or maybe somewhere around that circuit. Once that happens, expect there to be plenty of attacks as riders try to disrupt the plans of the fast-finishers.

A reduced bunch sprint or solo winner is again the likeliest outcome for the Women's event on Saturday. The lumpy loop down the Surf Coast will serve to thin out the field and the tough climbs through Geelong will ensure that only the strongest can get to the closing kilometres with a shot of victory.

Expect to see a break (or several breaks) get away in the early stages but for it all to be back together on the approach to Challambra Crescent. From there we’re likely to see the favourites start attacking one another, particularly on the two late climbs.

Riders To Watch

There are plenty of riders on the start list for both races that are worthy of your attention. Some are five-star favourites, others are outsiders, others will be worth watching for other reasons. Here’s a selection:

Elite Men

Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) – McCarthy won in 2018 race in a reduced bunch sprint and goes into Sunday’s race as one of the danger men again, while he crashed in [Stage 3] of the TDU this year. He looked some way off his best at last week’s Santos Tour Down Under but the same was true last year and yet McCarthy was able to triumph in Geelong. Don’t discount the Queenslander.

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Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) – Impey heads into this year's race after yet another strong showing at the Tour Down Under. He was leading the TDU up until the final stage and his set of skills marks him as a big favourite for Sunday’s race. On paper it’s a race that suits him perfectly — lumpy parcours, short pinchy climbs, likely reduced sprint finish.

Elia Viviani (Cofidis) – The defending champion of this race always tends to do well on this circuit and the 2020 edition looks to be no different. The 30-year-old sprinter has shown that he can get over the late hills in good position and will be the favourite if he’s in the lead group on Sunday. He comes in with good form too — he was thereabouts all week at the Tour Down Under and narrowly missed out on the win in 2018 on this very course.

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Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – Most European pros don’t bring great form to the Aussie summer races but Sam Bennett already has runs on the board in 2020. He took out the first stage of the Tour Down Under and proved to be incredibly consistent over the consequent sprint finishes. He climbs well, has a fast finish that can rival the other big sprinters, and reads a bike race as well as anyone. Look for him to be in the mix when it counts.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) – After two stage wins at the TDU last week, Ewan has proven to be the fastest sprinter on the block at this moment in time. His uphill sprint victory into Stirling shows that Ewan has improved his climbing ability, while his second place in last year's edition should indicate that Ewan is capable of winning this race outright if he can hang on until the final stages this Sunday.

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Nathan Haas (Cofidis) – Haas has been in the mix at Cadel’s Race a handful of times — he’s finished third, sixth and seventh — but is yet to crack the code. He’ll be best suited to a small bunch finish, and will be worth factoring in if that eventuates and he’s there. Note that Haas will likely be riding in support of defending champion Elia Viviani, so he'd need to skip away in a break to be let off the leash.

Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) – Much like Bennett, Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo already has a win on the board this season, after a thrilling sprint victory on Stage 5 of the 2020 Tour Down Under. The Italian won on a technical sprint finish into Victor Harbour which featured a gruelling climb just before the finish. Provided he has enough team members for support on the final lap, look for the Italian to shake things up this Sunday.

Elite Women

Chloe Hosking (Rally) – Hosking is a previous winner of the race (2018) and the rider to beat if it comes to a reduced sprint from a group she’s in. As shown during the women's Tour Down Under, where she won a stage, she’ll be dangerous if the race comes back together in the closing kilometres like it did in 2018. Many teams (principally Mitchelton-Scott) will be looking to distance Hosking on the final climbs, but if the Canberran can be there at the end, she’ll be tough to beat. While she’s probably still not in peak form, a stage win at last week’s Santos Tour Down Under suggests her condition is good.

The Mitchelton-Scott team – As ever during the Aussie summer, Mitchelton-Scott comes into Saturday’s race with a handful of compelling options.

Amanda Spratt won this race in 2016 when she attacked the outskirts of Geelong and rode away to win solo and finished third last year. She’ll likely be Mitchelton-Scott’s Plan A, and will probably opt for a similar tactic on Saturday. If other races so far this summer are anything to go by, we can expect Lucy Kennedy to be the first to attack and for Spratt to counter-attack once (or if) her teammate is caught.

Grace Brown has had a terrific start to the year, helping Amanada Spratt take out the 2020 National Road title and proving as an invaluable domestique the Tour Down Under. She’s another rider who can get away on her own.

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Ruth Winder – Like Mitchelton-Scott, the new Trek-Segafredo squad has several cards to play. Chief among them is probably Ruth Winder who was second in this race two years ago. The 26-year-old American won the Women's Tour Down Under a few weeks back and has proven she both climbs well and has a strong finish. She would not be a surprise winner.

Arlenis Sierra (Astana) – She won Cadel’s Race solo last year by over 19 seconds ahead of Mitchelton-Scott duo of Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy and she's also got a very fast finish. She can be dangerous in a bunch kick, has time trialling prowess and definitely shouldn’t be underestimated

Brodie Chapman (FDJ NOUVELLE - AQUITAINE FUTUROSCOPE) – Chapman brings great form into Saturday’s race after having been a main animator in the WTDU a few weeks back and strong 9th place finishes in the Australian Road Nationals the week prior. She finished sixth last year after a gutsy ride and she's proven to be a rider that loves going on the attack. With her impressive climbing ability, she’ll be one to watch late.

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How To Watch

In good news for Aussie viewers, Saturday’s race will be broadcast live on 7TWO and streamed online at 7plus. There will also be a highlights package screening on Channel 7, 7Two and 7plus on Sunday.

The men’s race will be broadcast live on Channel 7, 7TWO and the 7plus streaming service. Broadcast times vary depending on your location — check out the Cadel’s Race website for details.

If you’re following the race via Twitter or Instagram, keep an eye on the hashtag #CadelRoadRace.


Taking part in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race People's Ride gran fondo this Saturday? Check out our event overview for everything you need to know including details of the course and tips to make your ride a breeze