Held on the world famous Australian Formula One Circuit around Albert Park in Melbourne, the Towards Zero Race Melbourne serves as a chance for fans to see some of the world’s best riders test their mettle ahead of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Read on for our preview of the 2019 Towards Zero Race Melbourne, including a look at the course, the teams, and the riders you should keep an eye on.
The racing at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race starts on Thursday with the Towards Zero Race Melbourne, a kermesse held on the Formula One circuit around Albert Park Lake. This race isn’t part of the UCI WorldTour proper — but it is raced by the same riders that will ride in the main event. Race Melbourne is a great chance to see which riders are in form for the real thing, particularly the sprinters.
The course itself is identical in length to the Formula One circuit, with the Elite women taking in 12 laps of the 5.3km circuit for a total of 63.6km whilst the men complete 14 laps of the circuit for a total of 74.2.
The course itself is pan flat, with just 14m of elevation gain per lap, meaning that the sprinters are sure to shine on the circuit, however, don’t discount a breakaway win either.
Looking at the start list, there are a handful of riders that stand out as potential winners:
Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – Viviani’s stage win into Port Adelaide in the first stage of this year's Tour Down Under showed us that Viviani begins 2019 in the same scintillating form that saw him take 18 wins in 2018. His sprint up the barriers, surfing the lead out trains was something to behold. There’s no reason to suggest he won’t kick off his tilt at the race proper in style this Thursday night
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) – After a frustrating relegation in Stage Four of this year’s Tour Down Under, Ewan will no doubt have a fire in the belly to redeem himself, and his teammates this Thursday. Ewan has been in form this January, taking out two stages of the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits and the Tour Down Under Classic so far in January, so he’ll no doubt want to continue this on Thursday
Danny van Poppel (Lotto-Visma) – The Dutchman was thereabouts all week at the TDU, so there’s no doubt he’ll be in the mix for both the Towards Zero Race Melbourne, and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. He’ll do well to mix it with the likes of Viviani, and Ewan, but a win isn’t out of the question.
Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) – The 24-year-old Italian dominated the sprints at lower-level Asian races early in his career and while he hasn’t shown the same dominance at WorldTour level, he’s still got a strong sprint. He’s back on the WorldTour this year and would love to take his first win at that level.
Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Merida) – The German sprinter is with a new team and while he doesn’t have the same profile as the likes of Sagan and Viviani, he is a genuine contender. His biggest wins include a stage at last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour and at the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine.
Max Walscheid (Sunweb) – Speaking of German sprinters that shouldn’t be discounted, keep an eye on Max Walscheid. After an impressive second place in Stage One of this year’s Tour Down Under, he’s been making progress in recent years and has taken wins at races like Tour of Yorkshire and the Tour of Denmark. At nearly two metres tall and more than 90kg, Walscheid won’t love the lumpy stages, but if he can get to the finish he should be a contender.
Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cipollini) – Hosking won a stage of the Bay Crits earlier this year despite feeling a bit off her best. While she’s regarded as a pure sprinter, the 28-year-old has had strong results at this event in the past, taking out the main race last year.
Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott) –Brown has had a very impressive start to the year, taking out the Elite Women’s National Time Trial Title in early January. She rode superbly in this year’s Women's Tour Down Under, including taking out Stage Three and supporting the likes of Amanda Spratt and Gracie Elvin throughout the week.
Alison Jackson (Team Tibco-SVB) – Canadian sprinter Alison Jackson comes into the Towards Zero Race Melbourne in good form following an impressive Women's Tour Down Under. Jackson finished out the week third in the Sprinters category and 5th overall on GC, look to see her featuring in the final bunch gallop to the line.
Rebecca Wiasak (Australian Cycling Team-KordaMentha Real Estate) – After taking out first place in the Australian National Criterium Championships this year, there’s little denying that track star Rebecca Wiasak is fast and in form on a flat circuit. Look to see her use her positioning skills from the track for the fast finish to the line.
Matilda Raynolds (Specialized Womens Racing) – Local hope and smokey for the win, Raynolds is known to be a fast finisher, taking third in the National Criterium Championships behind Grace Brown and Rebecca Wiasak in Ballarat earlier this year. Look to see her use her hometown advantage in the final stages of the race.
Following The Race
The Towards Zero Race Melbourne will be shown via live stream over at cadelevansgreatoceanroadrace.com.au via live stream featuring commentary. If you’re in Melbourne and looking to view the race in person, there will be a Start/Finish Precinct Village on the Albert Park finishing straight, complete with food trucks, a beer garden, roving entertainment and entertainment for the whole family. The best part? It’s free! So if you’re in town and looking to get up and close to some of the world’s best riders, come on down.
Imagery courtesy of CorVos
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